Proposed Bill Will Increase Punishment for Abusive Head Trauma
COLUMBIA - Those who inflict abusive head trauma, formerly known as "shaken baby syndrome," on children in Missouri could face more jail time if a bill in the state house passes. Currently, inflicting abusive head trauma is a Class C felony, which could result in 7 years in prison. The bill proposes to make the act a Class B felony, which would mean a punishment of up to 5-15 years in prison and fines of up to $5000. If a child victim dies, the crime is a Class A felony.
Maryann Williamson is the grandmother of a child who died from abusive head trauma. The man who inflicted the trauma on her 11-month-old grandaughter Karra was sentenced to seven years in prison, but ended up serving four. Karra eventually died from the abuse. Williamson said, "We need people to get behind this bill. There have been two incidents since January. One child died and the other is injured."
KOMU reported on one of the incidents in Taos where a babysitter Shelley Richter claimed to accidently drop an infant who later became blind. She pleaded not guilty and the trial is set for September.
Blindness is only one of the effects of abusive head trauma. Others include:
- Severe brain damage
- Learning and physical disabilities
- Hearing loss
- Speech problems
- Behavior disorders
Some warning signs of abusive head trauma are:
- Poor feeding, lack of appetite
- Decreased alertness
- Loss of consciousness
- Pale or bluish skin
- Convulsions or seizures
- Not breathing
Williamson said she will not stop fighting for Karra's memory and the others who have suffered abusive head trauma.