The case of a Lexington woman charged with felony Negligent Child Abuse Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury has been bound over to Dawson County District Court. Forty-year-old Elizabeth Mins operated an in-home daycare at the time. During a preliminary hearing in Dawson County Court Monday morning, Nebraska State Patrol Investigator Jeffrey Van Stelton testified about his investigation into a rescue call to Mins’ home on November 15, 2017 in which a 17-month-old boy was reported as being unresponsive and not breathing. The boy was transported by rescue unit to Lexington Regional Health Center and then transferred by life flight to Children’s Hospital in Omaha for further treatment. Van Stelton said medical information from the Lexington hospital indicated the child, identified by initials R.R., had suffered cardiac arrest, an injury to the spleen, a swollen finger and difficulty breathing. Medical reports also indicated two ribs in healing that were the result of a previous incident.
From interviews of Mins, reviewed and conducted by Investigator Van Stelton, Van Stelton testified that Mins indicated that R.R. had climbed up a staircase with 8 stairs on it. The staircase was carpeted with a hard landing at the bottom of it. R.R. had started to go down the staircase when another child in the daycare bumped into him causing him to fall down. Van Stelton said no child safety gate was in use at the time of the reported fall.
Van Stelton said the mother of the boy told him a of previous incident in which R.R. fell out of a “Pack n’ Play” and landed on a concrete floor. Mins immediately contacted the mother and indicated R.R. had climbed out of the “Pack n’ Play”.
Prosecuting Attorney Bill Tangeman, of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, asked Van Stelton about the 9-1-1 call in which Mins indicated she was administering C.P.R. to the child. Van Stelton said there were indications that C.P.R. was not needed as there were indications that the child’s pulse was not checked before C.P.R. was initiated and that in the 9-1-1 call a child could be heard in the background gasping for air. Van Stelton said that unnecessary C.P.R. could have put the child into cardiac arrest.
On cross-examination by Defense Attorney Brian Davis, Van Stelton testified there were no delays, he was aware of, in Mins summoning help and that Mins provided voluntary interviews to Lexington Police Department and to Van Stelton. Under further questioning by Davis, Van Stelton said Mins was approved by the State of Nebraska for daycare services and that there were no state regulations on having safety gates. Mins also always changed diapers in the bathroom, located at the top of the stairs. Davis also noted that a search warrant was conducted on Mins’ cellphone. Van Stelton told Davis that no evidence of neglect was collected from phone records.
In closing remarks, Tangeman stated there were inconsistencies with the stair falling explanations, if that was what occurred. He also said parents had asked Mins to put up a child safety gate but, she refused to do so.
Davis said evidence pointed to the events leading to the injuries were the result of an accident and not neglect. He said Mins took immediate steps to render aid to the child and summon help. Davis also questioned whether the elements of the crime of negligent child abuse had been met by the testimony of Van Stelton.
At the conclusion of testimony and closing statements, Judge Ann Paine determined there was enough evidence to bind the case over to Dawson County District Court with arraignment set for July 22, 2019 at 9:30am. Mins is also charged with misdemeanor child abuse relating to an incident involving a different daycare child in 2006.