GREENFIELD — A Hancock County couple charged with battery and neglect accepted a plea agreement Tuesday, minutes before the trial was set to begin.
With a jury in place and prepared to hear the opening arguments in Hancock Circuit Court, David Lanning, 44, of Fortville, agreed to plead guilty to neglect in exchange for prosecutors dropping a felony battery charge. At the same time, his girlfriend, Lisa Bozymski, 43, of McCordsville, pleaded guilty to a new charge of criminal recklessness, a misdemeanor; and prosecutors dropped the battery and neglect charges she originally faced.
A child left in the couple’s care suffered injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome in January 2014, court documents state. Medical examinations showed the 6-month-old girl, a relative of Bozymski’s, suffered a skull fracture, multiple soft-tissue injuries and bruising to her face and scalp.
Lanning and Bozymski told investigators the child fell off a bed around 4 a.m. and became wedged between the bed and a nightstand. Prosecutors said that bed was about 20 inches off the floor.
The defendants admitted in court Tuesday they did not seek medical attention for the child when her injuries became apparent. The child was taken to a clinic at 6 p.m. and underwent further examination at Riley Hospital for Children more than 24 hours after the incident, said Marie Castetter, Hancock County chief deputy prosecutor.
Seeking justice for that neglect was of the utmost importance, Castetter said. However, because doctors could not pinpoint a time frame for the child’s injuries, she admitted it might have been difficult to prove when the battery occurred.
Questions during jury selection indicated that attorney Greg Spencer, who represented both Lanning and Bozymski, would have suggested during trial that someone else was to blame for the child’s injuries and that the girl was left in the couple’s care after the battery occurred.
Law enforcement officers and family members of the victim agreed the couple’s plea bargain was acceptable, prosecutors said.
The agreement calls for Bozymski to serve up to 180 days of probation and pay a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors have recommended Lanning serve at least five years in prison; a judge will rule on that recommendation when Lanning returns to court next month.
The Hancock County Probation Department will conduct a presentence investigation to be submitted to the judge for consideration. That document will include information on Lanning’s background, criminal history and likelihood to reoffend.
Lanning’s criminal history includes fraud, forgery and drug-related charges; he was on probation at the time of the incident. Judge Richard Culver told Lanning on Tuesday that as long as no additional cases are discovered during the presentence investigation, he likely will follow the state’s recommendation for a five-year sentence.
The couple’s original charges, two Class B felonies, each carried a penalty of six to 20 years and up to $10,000 in fines.