The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

July 30, 2012

Sarcoxie man pleads guilty in abuse case

A Sarcoxie man pleaded guilty Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court to a reduced charge in a child-abuse case.

Larry C. Gates, 34, pleaded guilty to felony child endangerment in a plea deal with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office that would limit the prison time he might be required to serve to no more than four years. The defendant initially was charged with Class C felony child abuse, which carries up to seven years in prison.

Circuit Judge David Dally delayed formal action on the plea deal and ordered the completion of a sentencing-assessment report. The judge set Gates’ sentencing hearing for Sept. 24.

Acting on a child-abuse tip, a Missouri Department of Social Services investigator entered the family’s home in Sarcoxie on March 9 and observed multiple bruises on a baby’s head and body. The infant was taken to Freeman Hospital West in Joplin for a medical evaluation that concluded the bruises and scrape marks were the result of abuse, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The affidavit alleges that both parents were involved in the abuse and admitted smoking methamphetamine in the presence of the child.

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