Sunday, February 21, 2010

Woman pleads guilty to child endangering


POSTED: February 20, 2010
mother accused of abusing her children averted a trial next week by pleading guilty to charges that she created a risk to their health and safety.
Michelle D. Darrah, 25, of 1797 Clark Ave., Wellsville, appeared Friday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to enter the guilty pleas to two counts of endangering children, both third-degree felonies.
Two other counts of endangering children, both second-degree felonies which alleged she recklessly abused the children, will be dismissed.
County assistant Prosecutor Tim McNicol said he will recommend a two-year prison sentence and oppose community control or probation. Darrah's attorney, Kelly Linger, told Judge C. Ashley Pike that her client will be requesting community control.
Pike ordered a pre-sentence investigation and an evaluation for possible placement at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center, which is a residential alternative to prison.
Sentencing was set for 1:30 p.m. April 30.
The charges in the plea carry a possible sentence of one to five years in prison, or a maximum 10 years if the terms are ordered served consecutively. McNicol said he will request two years for each, but with both terms served at the same time. The charges to be dismissed carried a possible prison term of two to eight years.
The indictment said the incidents occurred in 2008, with Darrah's 4-year-old son injured in September and her 3-year-old daughter injured in November. Both children suffered fractured femurs, or broken legs.
McNicol told the judge the evidence would have shown the injuries were the result of blunt force trauma inconsistent with the explanation provided by the defendant, who said the injuries were accidental. The injuries had been evaluated by doctors at Akron Childrens' Hospital and determined not be accidental, he said previously.
When the indictment was issued, McNicol explained that concerns had been raised by officials from the emergency rooms of both Salem Community Hospital and East Liverpool City Hospital. One of the children had been evaluated at Akron, with records for the other child referred for review as part of the investigation.
The case involved investigators from Children Services and Wellsville Police.
Darrah will remain out of jail under a recognizance bond pending sentencing. A bench warrant had been issued for her arrest in October after she failed to show up for a hearing, with the bond revoked, but the judge agreed to reinstate the bond in November under the condition that she remain at her residence.

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