Evansville Woman Sentenced to Prison for Physical Abuse of Two-Year-Old Boy
A woman who admitted in April to losing her temper and physically abusing a two-year-old child -- but now maintains her innocence -- was sentenced to prison Monday afternoon.
Natrona County District Court Judge Catherine Wilking sentenced 27-year-old Jordan Reann Fleck to 18-36 months in the Wyoming Women's Center with one day credit for time served. Fleck will also have to pay $5,528.50 in restitution to the Wyoming Division of Victim Services.
Fleck pleaded guilty in April to two counts of child abuse. State statute provides for a penalty of up to 10 years in prison on each count, but Fleck entered her guilty plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors which called for her to spend no more than a total of five years in prison.
Fleck's attorney, Cheyenne-based Leigh Anne Manlove, asked Wilking to stay the imposition of Fleck's sentence pending an appeal. Wilking declined to stay the sentence, but told Manlove she could address the issue once the judgement and sentence have been filed with the court.
Prior to Monday's hearing, Manlove also filed a motion to withdraw Fleck's guilty plea and reset the case for a jury trial. Wilking denied that motion.
Court documents say on Oct. 24, the victim's parents went to the Natrona County Sheriff's Office to report their concerns about physical injuries suffered by their child.
According to the investigator's affidavit, Fleck -- who was the child's babysitter at that time -- was watching the child at her home Oct. 22. When the child's mother went to Fleck's house to pick up the child, the mother found a large bump spanning the width of the child's forehead.
Fleck told the mother she did not know what happened, and said the child had not cried or otherwise indicated he was hurt throughout the day.
After leaving Fleck's home that day, the child's injury worsened. The parents took the child to Wyoming Medical Center, where doctors determined the child was suffering from "an acute closed head injury, manifesting as a posterior scalp hematoma."
Doctors also said the child was "likely having a mild post concussive syndrome as well," according to the affidavit.
The hematoma progressed in size and discoloration for the next two days, until it covered roughly half of the child's head. The injury was so large that the child's eyes were forced almost entirely closed at times.
Charging papers say the victim's parents also disclosed to the investigator that on Sept. 15, 2016, the mother picked up the child from Fleck's house and noticed a large amount of bruising on the child's right hip. She photographed the bruising that night.
When the mother asked Fleck about the bruising, Fleck reportedly suggested the child may have been injured at the park.
One doctor who reviewed the photo of the bruising told the investigator that "a bruise on the top of the hip bone... can be common from accidents; however, [the victim's] bruising extended to the abdomen area and toward the pelvic girdle, which was not a normal diffusion of bruising. Therefore, the bruise was related to direct, unexplained, forceful blunt trauma," the affidavit reads in part.
In an interview with the investigator, Fleck initially said she didn't know how the two-year-old boy's head was injured, but suggested her daughter saw the boy fall into a corner when Fleck was not around, according to charging documents.
"When confronted with the unlikeliness that all of [the victim's] recent injuries were an accident, Fleck informed Investigator [Taylor] Courtney that she caused the head and hip injuries to [the victim]," Courtney's affidavit reads. Fleck allegedly went on to explain that the hip bruising and hematoma of the head were caused by her pushing the boy into the corner of a wall inside her home.
Fleck said she would have the boy stand in a corner when he would misbehave, but in both instances, the boy would not stay in the corner and Fleck lost control over her emotions and forcefully shoved the victim into the corner multiple times, according to the affidavit.
Leading up to Monday's two-hour hearing, Manlove filed separate motions to supplement the court record and to dismiss the matter based on a discovery violation. Manlove claimed the Natrona County District Attorney's Office failed to turn over names of witnesses as well as emails exchanged between Taylor and a doctor cited in the affidavit.
Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen, who took over prosecuting the case, told Wilking on Monday that Manlove's motion to dismiss failed to identify a violation. He referenced case law which may have applied had to the case gone to trial and the doctor testified, but emphasized, "This thing never got within smelling distance of trial."
As for the motion to supplement the record, Blonigen called it an attempt to create new record in the case, not supplement any record.
Wilking agreed with Blonigen.
"I can find no legal basis to grant that motion to dismiss," Wilking said. She later added, "The case law is quite clear... party cannot attempt to create a record that was not properly created before the court."
Wilking noted for Manlove that her motion to supplement -- which totaled over 300 pages in length -- would make it to the Wyoming Supreme Court, should Fleck appeal, because the motion had been filed with the court, despite Wilking denying it as a supplement to the court record.
The victim's parents stood together at the podium as they gave their victim impact statements before Fleck was sentenced Monday.
Holding up a photo of her son's injuries for the court to see, the victim's mother said, "This is what she did to my little boy."
"The thought of leaving my child now... just makes me sick some days because of what this monster did to my son," the mother continued. "He still has nightmares about it."
"To explain this... it's just not possible," she added. "Because of her, I failed my son, because I failed to protect him."
After the incident, the boy's father said, "He wouldn't talk. He was emotionless. He refused to do a lot of things he loved doing."
The father said he had to change the route he takes to drop off his children each day, which used to pass through Evansville. As soon as they would cross a set of railroad tracks, the father explained, the boy would become fearful that he was being taken back to Fleck's house.
Five people then spoke on behalf of Fleck, saying she couldn't have harmed a child. They largely maintained Fleck's innocence; one man, who said he had recently retired after 22 years as a Wyoming peace office and had worked with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, said he had conducted his own investigation and found Fleck "factually innocent."
As he spoke, Blonigen objected twice, as the man's statements veered from the subject of Fleck's character to an attempt to re-litigate the case, and the man directly addressed the victim's parents and Courtney, who was seated next to Blonigen throughout the hearing.
Blonigen ended up objecting several times throughout the afternoon, as Manlove also seemed to stray from the sentencing hearing to evidence and investigative methods used in the case.
Fleck also addressed the court, saying she misses seeing the victim and feels terrible for the boy's family. She also flatly presented what she called "the truth of what happened," saying the victim had been playing in her daughter's room and fell while Fleck was taking out the trash.
"I am innocent of these charges against me," Fleck told the court, adding that she has been going to counseling to address emotional issues.
Fleck also blamed the outcome on her previous attorney, a Casper public defender who Fleck alleges coerced her into pleading guilty in order to get a lighter sentence.
Fleck told Wilking that her previous attorney refused to meet with her prior to her change of plea hearing in April and, at the advice of her previous attorney, "lied" by entering guilty pleas to crimes of which, she says, she is not guilty.
Manlove addressed that aspect several times over the course of Monday's sentencing hearing.