The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

September 30, 2013

Joplin man pleads guilty in shaken-baby case

JOPLIN, Mo. — A 22-year-old defendant in a Joplin shaken-baby case has taken a plea offer that would cap the prison time that he might receive at 10 years.

Courtney J. Lindsey entered an Alford plea to an amended charge of first-degree assault at a hearing Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The Joplin man had been facing a Class A felony count of first-degree assault, carrying from 10 to 30 years or up to life in prison, in connection with injuries inflicted April 24, 2012, to 7-month-old Adriana Bowers. Lindsey was caring for the daughter of his girlfriend, Amber Pittsley, at the time of her injuries.

In exchange for his plea, the Jasper County prosecutor’s office agreed to reduce the charge to a Class B felony count, which carries a penalty range of five to 15 years, and to cap the prison time that he might be assessed at 10 years. The conviction requires the defendant to serve 85 percent of any prison term that he receives, meaning that he might have to spend 8 1/2 years behind bars.

An Alford plea admits no guilt but acknowledges the likelihood of a conviction if the matter were to proceed to trial.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane delayed formal action on the plea bargain and ordered the completion of a sentencing-assessment report. She set a sentencing hearing for Nov. 18.

Lindsey, who lived with the girl and her mother at 1606 S. Kentucky Ave., was the lone adult present when the baby was injured. He called 911 to request an ambulance at 8:39 a.m., and the infant was taken to Freeman Hospital West in an unresponsive state. A computerized tomography scan determined that the girl had suffered a subdural hematoma, and she was flown to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Fisher told the court at the plea hearing that the girl suffered brain damage that will affect her the remainder of her life.

Lindsey initially told police that he didn’t know what happened to the girl, that she had just stopped breathing. He subsequently changed his story several times, according to the testimony of police Detective Chip Root at a preliminary hearing a year ago. Root said Lindsey next told him that the girl was crying and that he had dropped her accidentally while trying to get her some water. He briefly tried to claim that she fell from a table before returning to a version in which he dropped her.

Lindsey then admitted to the detective that the girl would not stop crying when he tried to bottle feed her and that she kept screaming and getting more agitated until finally, out of frustration, he grabbed her and shook her in a violent effort to quiet her.

Request denied

COURTNEY LINDSEY, who has remained in custody since his arrest last year, asked the judge Monday to allow him out of jail for a week so he could raise enough money to pay the fee for a local community-based corrections program, where he hopes to be sent in lieu of prison. The judge denied the request.

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