A judge sentenced a young Joplin father to seven years in prison Monday in the abuse of his 2-month-old son, leaving the infant with a fractured skull, four broken ribs and a brain bleed.

Judge Dean Dankelson assessed Kavan R. Ply, 24, concurrent terms of seven years on two counts of felony child abuse at a sentencing hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Ply pleaded guilty to the charges March 9 in a plea agreement with the Jasper County prosecutor's office. He was charged with two Class B felony counts of abuse, which carry a punishment range of five to 15 years, but was allowed to plead down to two Class D felony counts, which carry up to seven years.

Under state law governing child abuse and neglect cases, he will be required to serve at least one year of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

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 discovered that the infant had a fractured skull, four broken ribs, bleeding from two arteries in his brain and bruises on his head, back and legs.

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the original charges states that Ply admitted to investigators that he had hit his son on the back harder than warranted while trying to burp him, and later hit him on the side of his head.

Prosecutor Theresa Kenney said the latest information her office had received about the child's recovery was that he was doing remarkably well considering the seriousness of the injuries. She said that relatively good condition report figured into her office's decision to allow the father to plead to reduced counts of abuse.

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