Mills Woman Charged With Aggravated Child Abuse
A Mills woman who was caring for a ten-month-old child when the child suffered two skull fractures last year appeared in Natrona County District Court on Tuesday and heard the felony charge filed against her.
Donna Lea Gatlin, 59, pleaded not guilty to a single count of aggravated child abuse. If convicted, she could face up to 25 years in prison.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, a Mills police officer responded to Wyoming Medical Center late on the night of July 14, 2017, for a report of child abuse. The parents reported that the child had suffered the injuries at a babysitter's residence in Mills.
Doctors told the officer that the child's skull had been fractured twice. Medical staff had been told that the child had fallen out of a playpen while in Gatlin's care; however, the officer was told that the child's injuries were not consistent with such a fall.
One doctor told the police officer that the child would have to be flown to Denver due to the severity of the injuries.
Excerpts from medical reports as presented in the affidavit state that the injuries were consistent with abusive head trauma and child abuse.
When interviewed by the chief of the Mills Police Department, Gatlin said that she had been in the bathroom when she heard a "thunk" from the kitchen and emerged to find the child on his back on the floor outside the playpen.
After further questioning, Gatlin allegedly admitted that she had accidentally hit the child's head on the back of a kitchen chair when she held the child away from her body in order to check the child's face.
Gatlin remained free on bond at the time of Tuesday's arraignment.