Couple sentenced to 5 years for neglect

GREENFIELD — A former Greenfield couple will spend five years on probation after pleading guilty to neglecting their 3-month-old daughter, who suffered injuries consistent with being shaken or slammed onto a soft surface, officials said.

Andie Suddarth, 25, and Michael Knott, 27, were charged with felony neglect following an incident in March 2014. The couple said their daughter had fallen, and the baby sustained brain bleeding and retinal hemorrhaging, court documents state. The child’s vision was temporarily damaged because of her injuries, officials said.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton said the case presented several legal challenges, all of which came to light after the couple was charged. Suddarth, Knott and two other adults were home with the child when she was injured, and there was no firm evidence as to who or what caused the baby’s injuries, Eaton said.

As the criminal case made its way through the court system, a Department of Child Services investigation concluded the baby could be left safely in her parents’ care, Eaton said.

These factors influenced the plea agreement the couple was offered, Eaton said. The pair was sentenced Monday afternoon in Hancock Circuit Court.

Suddarth and Knott pleaded guilty to a Class C felony charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in injury; a charge that best represented their involvement with the child’s injuries, Eaton said.

The couple took the child to a local hospital in February 2014 after she’d been fussing and not eating well. At the time, the couple had no explanation for why the child was behaving oddly but later told police the baby had fallen around that time, according to court records.

The baby was examined by doctors in February and sent home but was rushed from the couple’s home to a local hospital after she stopped breathing a month later, officials said. A relative of Knott’s called 911 on March 30, 2014, and told dispatchers something was wrong with the little girl, and she was gasping for air, court documents state.

The baby was taken by ambulance to Hancock Regional Hospital and later flown to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

The child’s condition eventually improved, and she was released from the hospital.

Suddarth and Knott were charged a few months later.

While out on bond, the couple moved to Orange County in southern Indiana, where Suddarth was arrested and charged with battery after she assaulted a man in October, police said.

She was transported back to Hancock County for holding, and prosecutors asked that her bond be revoked because of the additional charge; the allegations were of further acts of violence, prosecutors said at the time, and Suddarth had shown she could not follow the rules set by a judge, they argued.

The couple will serve probation in Orange County, Eaton said. Both have agreed to strict supervision by the Department of Child Services.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.