MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — A Mount Vernon woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to reduced charges in a felony child abuse case and received suspended impositions of sentences with probation and community service.

Joan K. Muse, 22, pleaded guilty in Lawrence County Circuit Court to two counts of first-degree child endangerment in a plea agreement calling for suspended imposition of sentences. Circuit Judge Jack Goodman accepted the plea deal and granted the suspended imposition of sentences with five years of supervised probation and 50 hours of community service.

Muse was charged with two counts of felony child abuse after an investigation in May 2018 by the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department. A probable-cause affidavit states that Muse and her boyfriend were interviewed about "marks" on the children in the home they shared and both suggested that the other may have been responsible for the injuries.

According to the affidavit, Muse ended up being the one charged because she could not provide a timeline for the injuries or tell how they happened. Because the defendant failed to report the apparent abuse in a timely manner and stormed out of her interview with a sheriff's investigator, the children were removed from the home at the time and placed with their grandparents, according to the affidavit.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.