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Couple faces charges in baby boy's injuries

March 23, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The parents of a baby boy were arrested Tuesday after the infant suffered a skull fracture at a West Washington Street home on Feb. 20, court records said.

The child's mother, Ebony J. Sheppard, 26, of 423 W. Washington St., was charged with child neglect resulting in injury, and the father, Ryan Darbi Foote, 30, of the same address, was charged with child abuse resulting in serious injury, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

A conviction of child neglect resulting in injury carries a punishment of one to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of $300 to $3,000.

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A conviction of child abuse resulting in serious injury carries a punishment of two to 10 years in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.

Sheppard and Foote are free on $50,000 bond each.

The infant was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., after the incident, but because of the extent of the baby's injuries, the boy later was transported to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., court records state.

A physician at Children's National Medical Center became suspicious of the mother's and father's account of what occurred, records state.

Sheppard and Foote told authorities their son was sitting in a chair on a bed when he "simply rolled out of the chair" and onto the floor, records state.

At the couple's home, photographs and measurements were taken of the positions of the chair, bed and a crib. When the photographs and measurements were given to the doctor at Children's National Medical Center, the doctor concluded that the baby must have been "ejected" from the chair, records allege.

On March 3, Charles Town Police Department Detective Mark Spessert contacted Sheppard, who stated that she and Foote were involved in a physical argument, records state.

Sheppard said that during the argument, Foote approached her in an attempt to make contact with her and struck the child's chair with his arm, causing the child to be thrown to the floor, records state.

Also on March 3, Foote said an original story he gave to Spessert was false and acknowledged that he knocked the baby's chair off the bed with his hand, causing the baby to fall to the floor, records allege.

The baby was released from Children's National Medical Center and is in the custody of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Spessert said Tuesday.

The couple's arrest came after another Charles Town man and woman were charged with child abuse about two weeks ago involving injuries to a 7-year-old boy.

In that case, police allege the boy was shocked on the tongue, burned with a cigarette lighter, held under water in a bathtub and his ears were pulled and twisted until they bled, according to court records.

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