A 23-year-old Joplin man pleaded guilty Monday to two reduced counts of child abuse regarding his 2-month-old son, whose injuries included a skull fracture, four broken ribs and a brain bleed.

Kavan R. Ply pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to two Class D felony counts of child abuse in a plea agreement promising that the prosecutor's office will not seek consecutive sentences in the case.

The defendant faces up to seven years on each count. He was charged initially with two Class B felony counts, which carry a penalty range of five to 15 years. Under state law governing child abuse and neglect cases, he will be required to serve at least one year of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Circuit Judge Dean Dankelson delayed formal acceptance or rejection of the plea deal and ordered sentencing assessment of the defendant before a sentencing hearing May 11.

Ply brought his baby boy to the emergency room of Mercy Hospital Joplin on Aug. 22, 2017, with a high fever and apparent illness. Police and state child abuse investigators were notified when medical staff found the baby had a fractured skull, broken ribs, bleeding from two arteries in the brain and bruises on his head, legs and back.

A probable-cause affidavit states that Ply told investigators that he hit his son on the back harder than normal trying to burp him, and later hit him on the side of his head.

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