The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 10, 2012

Joplin mother to stand trial in shaken-baby case

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — A judge today ordered Samantha Dechert of Joplin to stand trial for allegedly shaking her 2-month-old baby boy and causing his severe and debilitating head injury.

Dechert, 23, appeared at a preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court on a charge of first-degree assault. Following the testimony of a Springfield doctor and a Joplin police detective, Associate Circuit Judge Richard Copeland found probable cause for Dechert to be bound over for trial.

Dr. John Carlile told the court that he treated Dechert’s baby, William E. Bustamante, when he was transferred to Cox South Medical Center in Springfield from a Joplin hospital in critical condition on Feb. 15.

Carlile said the baby had extensive bleeding on the brain, bilateral retinal hemorrhaging and seizures due to interruptions to electrical impulses in the brain. He said the injuries were more consistent with the baby having been shaken and suffering what the medical profession now prefers to term “abusive head trauma” than with the mother’s account that she fell while carrying him and that he fell from her arms and his head struck a wall before he landed on a bed.