A young Joplin mother accused of abusing and medically neglecting her 3-year-old daughter waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court and was ordered to stand trial.
Celia M. Lara-Licon, 24, waived the hearing on two counts of first-degree domestic assault, two counts of child abuse and a single count of child endangerment.
Associate Judge Joe Hensley set the defendant's initial appearance in trial division of the court for July 27. The judge also set Lara-Licon's bond at $50,000 with the conditions that she remain under house arrest and wear an ankle monitor if she is able to post bond.
The defendant was arrested March 4 after an investigation by Joplin police and the Missouri Department of Social Services. A probable-cause affidavit states that she met with state child welfare workers March 3 regarding her three children and their fathers and informed them that she was the parent who had been abusing her 3-year-old girl for the past 18 months. She told them that she would become frustrated with the girl and start hitting her and jerking her about by her arms.
The girl was vomiting when she brought her to the emergency room of Mercy Hospital Joplin the following day. Medical staff noted a large bruise across her forehead and found the child to be nonverbal, lethargic, severely dehydrated and unable to hold a cup, according to the affidavit. She purportedly weighed 25 pounds.
Hospital staff determined that she had not been seen by a medical professional for 18 months and required dialysis due to kidney failure. X-rays detected fractures to nine bones — two ribs, her clavicle, the humerus bones in both arms, and the tibia and fibula of both legs — that were in various stages of healing. She also had a lacerated pancreas and bruising to an ear and her buttocks as well as her face.
She was flown to a pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where a child abuse specialist described her injuries as being tantamount to "child torture."