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15 years for mom in neglect of toddler

Docs disbelieve tale of child's fall

A Fort Wayne mother was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for child neglect.

Angela M. Beck, formerly of the 400 block of Elizabeth Street, was convicted last month of neglect of a dependent. She was charged a year ago after her toddler suffered a serious head injury.

Her co-defendant, Gregory R. Higgins II, 27, pleaded guilty this year to the same charge and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Three children – ages 15 months, 12 years and 10 years – lived in their home in the 400 block of Elizabeth Street.

According to court documents, Beck and Higgins often left the children home alone overnight while they looked for used metal objects to sell, but the high-level felony charges stemmed not from that but from injuries to the toddler’s head.

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 that 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 though 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 occurred 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.

Beck told the court she plans to hire her own attorney and appeal her conviction, according to court documents.