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Father pleads guilty in neglect case

A Fort Wayne man whose daughter suffered scalding burns and head trauma while in his care will likely be sentenced to no more than eight years in prison.

Arriaga Walker, 32, pleaded guilty to one felony count of neglect of a dependent and one felony count of criminal recklessness in Allen Superior Court on Monday.

A plea agreement he made with prosecutors calls for his sentence to be capped at eight years, though a judge can give him any amount of time up to that amount.

A judge will decide whether to accept that agreement at Walker's sentencing hearing next month.

Walker, of the 600 block of Fifth Street, had been accused of neglecting his daughter on two occasions.

In August 2011, the then 4-month-old girl's mother had come home to find the child crying badly.

Walker and the girl's mother took her to a local hospital, where a scan revealed the child had new and old bleeds on her brain, according to court papers.

Walker told investigators at the time that the girl had fallen out of a baby tub during her bath, but that he did not hear her hit her head.

Police and prosecutor's alleged that Walker had neglected the child by not taking her to the hospital when he should have.

"The type of event which would have caused such injury is something which any reasonable bystander would immediately recognize as potentially dangerous," an investigator wrote in court papers.

The following April, Walker called police himself saying his daughter, then about a year old, had been burned while in the tub.

He said the girl had feces on her back and put her in a tub to clean her. When he ran water down her back, he noticed the water was steaming as the girl began to wince and cry, according to court papers.

Walker took the girl out of the tub, put the water on cold and then put her back in, according to court papers. When he used a washcloth on her back, pieces of skin began to come off.

Later, a crime-scene technician found the water from the tub faucet could reach 138 degrees, according to court documents.

Walker initially was charged with neglect of a dependent, a class C felony, in both cases.

But per the plea agreement, prosecutors are allowing Walker to plead to a lesser class D felony criminal recklessness in the case involving the girl's burns.

Walker is scheduled to be sentenced March 27.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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