By Jeff Lehr
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A 28-year-old Joplin man pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and received probation in a case involving the alleged abuse of his girlfriend’s son at a restaurant.
Edward C. Beddingfield had been facing a felony count of child abuse for allegedly grabbing a 3-year-old boy April 6 and slinging him into a booth at a Joplin restaurant. Witnesses told police the child’s head struck the wall next to the booth and that the defendant then slapped the top of the boy’s head.
Beddingfield pleaded guilty Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court to a reduced count of misdemeanor child endangerment in a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.
Circuit Judge David Dally accepted the plea agreement and assessed Beddingfield one year in jail, with execution of the term suspended and the defendant placed on unsupervised probation for two years. The judge also ordered that he complete a program that teaches alternatives to violence and that he have no further contact with the child.
In a separate child-endangerment case, Mark A. Lawson, 32, of Joplin, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of possession of chemicals with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Lawson entered the plea in an agreement with the prosecutor’s office that would dismiss three other felony counts he is facing, including two other drug charges and a charge of child endangerment.
Three of the four counts against Lawson stemmed from an arrest Dec. 14 of last year when members of the Jasper County Drug Task Force allegedly found components of a meth lab in Lawson’s residence at 404 S. Park Ave. An affidavit states that there were two children living in the residence, and task force members found a plastic bottle containing layered liquids composed of acid and other toxic chemicals within reach of the children on the floor of the home.
Under terms of the plea deal, Lawson would receive no more than five years in prison. Dally ordered a sentencing-assessment report on the defendant and set his sentencing hearing for Jan. 28.