FORT WAYNE – One of two people charged with seriously injuring a toddler pleaded guilty Wednesday in Allen Superior Court.
Gregory R. Higgins II, 27, pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury, as well as an unrelated charge of burglary.
In exchange for his guilty plea, Higgins faces no more than 30 years in prison.
But he must testify against his co-defendant, Angela Beck, 36.
In September, Beck and Higgins were both charged with neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury.
Three children – ages 15 months, 12 and 10 – lived in their home in the 400 block of Elizabeth Street.
According to court documents, they would often leave the children home alone overnight while they looked for used metal objects to sell, but it was injuries to the toddler's head that brought the high-level felony charges.
According to court documents, Beck let Higgins take the toddler upstairs with him last May.
Higgins told investigators he fell asleep with the toddler in his care and that he found the child lying unresponsive on his back on the stairway landing.
Doctors who evaluated the toddler at St. Joseph Hospital's emergency room and later at Lutheran Hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit said the injuries were inconsistent with Higgins' claim the child merely took a tumble down the stairs.
Doctors found a midline shift of the child's brain from swelling, bleeding on his brain behind his forehead and unusual bruises around his scalp.
According to court documents, the bruising looked like fingerprints, as if the toddler was grabbed on both sides of his head.
Additional bruises of varying age were found, as well as an unattended injury to his left big toe, a sore on the bottom of his lip and an injury to the inside of his mouth, according to court documents.
Beck told a detective the injuries came when the child hit himself in the head with his toys.
But doctors said such injuries were not likely to be caused by that and were consistent with child abuse.
In the unrelated burglary case, Higgins admitted to kicking in the door of a Springfield Township home and stealing a package, as well as several other items, in July.
The burglary was captured on security video cameras, and when Allen County police released the information to the media, numerous tips came in.
Higgins' sentencing date is scheduled for mid-May, shortly after Beck's trial on the neglect charge.