CLINTON — A Clinton woman was granted a suspended sentence for felony child endangerment despite a recommendation of incarceration from Assistant Clinton County Attorney Ross Barlow.
Elisia I. Bruggenwirth, 29, 232 N. Third St., appeared Thursday in Clinton County District Court for sentencing for child endangerment causing bodily injury, a Class D felony.
Barlow requested the court order Bruggenwirth to serve an indeterminate term of incarceration not to exceed five years for the child endangerment charge. Barlow said the State believed incarceration was warranted due to the "ongoing severe nature of the injuries" suffered by the child.
Defense attorney Neill Kroeger said the defense disagreed with the State's recommendation and requested the court accept the pre-sentence investigation recommendation. Kroeger stated the offense occurred almost two years ago and Bruggenwirth has not committed any crimes in that time period. Kroeger stated Bruggenwirth completed a substance abuse evaluation at New Directions and is getting therapy.
Kroeger stated her children were not in her care at this point. He said he did not believe incarceration was warranted, adding he did not think incarceration would "protect anyone at this point." He added he believes Bruggenwirth can be successful on probation.
District Court Judge Mark Lawson cited Bruggenwirth's plea to the lesser included charge of child endangerment causing bodily injury, stating he was bound to sentence her on the bodily injury charge. He stated that although it was difficult to do he had to separate the serious nature of the offense and look at it as a case of child endangerment causing bodily injury.
Lawson ordered a sentence of incarceration not to exceed five years be suspended. Bruggenwirth was placed on probation for three years unless sooner released. He ordered Bruggenwirth to pay a $750 fine and attorney fees not to exceed $800. Lawson in ordering a suspended sentence and probation cited Bruggenwirth's age, good employment history, family support and relatively minimal history. He did not grant Bruggenwirth a deferred judgement due to the bodily injury caused to a child.
According to the affidavit, on July 2, 2015, Bruggenwirth took a juvenile male to Mercy Medical Center for an unknown medical problem. Bruggenwirth told medical staff and a representative from the Iowa Department of Human Services the juvenile male had fallen off a toilet and hit his head. Bruggenwirth also noticed the juvenile male's stomach was larger than normal but thought he was getting the flu. It was determined once at the hospital by medical staff the juvenile male had a perforated bowel. The juvenile male was intubated and taken to the University of Iowa, where he had surgery for a perforated bowel.
The juvenile male during the first surgery had 25 centimeters of his intestinal segment removed from his abdomen. The juvenile male had two more surgeries, which removed 10 centimeters and 15 centimeters of his intestinal segment. Medical staff determined the juvenile male had developed septic shock, a life-threatening condition that could have led to death. Medical staff at the University of Iowa classified the injury as an injury consistent with blunt force trauma.
The affidavit states in the medical report the doctors noted the child's intra-abdominal injuries were "clearly all traumatic origin which requires a significant blunt impact into the abdomen." The injuries were consistent with someone hitting the child or the child could have fallen against a rigid object in an accelerated manner, such as a car accident or bicycle accident.
The affidavit continues that during several interviews with Bruggenwirth, she stated the child had not fallen off anything very high. The child was not in a car accident and had not fallen from a bicycle. Bruggenwirth was interviewed by a DHS representative. An officer met with Bruggenwirth at the University of Iowa Hospital. Bruggenwirth denied any knowledge of the child's injuries.
The affidavit states during another interview of Bruggenwirth at the Clinton Police Department that she admitted a few days prior to the juvenile child going to the hospital there was an incident at the house. Bruggenwirth stated she was frustrated with the juvenile child because he was not eating his food and he continued to push away from the table as he sat in his chair. Bruggenwirth pushed the juvenile child back to the table several times but stated she lost her temper and shoved the juvenile male into the table too hard, stating the juvenile child stated she hurt his tummy. Bruggenwirth stated she knew right away she hurt the child and picked him up. Bruggenwirth stated she believed this happened five days prior to taking the juvenile male to the hospital.