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Handcuffed

A Chadron woman was sentenced to 20-30 years in jail in connection with an incident of child abuse dating back to 2015.

Dawes County District Court Judge Travis O’Gorman handed down the sentence against Jessica Cuny last week, noting that the injuries she caused her daughter were horrific.

“The injuries sustained by this 10-month-old little girl just horrify me….I’m surprised we’re not here for a death case. No one should to this to a child,” O’Gorman said.

Cuny, who cried during her sentencing, was arrested after the incident in 2015, but charges were dropped the next year as prosecutors worked to build the case against her. She was arrested again last October, and a trial scheduled for this year was cancelled after Cuny entered a no contest plea to an amended filing charging her with one count of child abuse that intentionally caused injury. Another count of first degree assault was dismissed as part of the deal by prosecutor Doug Warner.

The case stemmed from an October 2015 hospital visit in which Cuny said her 10-month-old daughter had fallen off the bed in the middle of night. According to court records, Cuny claimed the baby had woken up in the middle of the night. Cuny said she laid the baby on her bed and went to the bathroom after the infant had fallen asleep, only to hear her daughter crying again. She told doctors she believed the baby rolled off the bed and hit a coffee table/television stand on the way down.

Thinking the baby was fine, she put her child back in her crib but noticed bruising the next day and took her to Chadron Community Hospital. The baby had to be flown to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colo. Doctors there diagnosed her with a multitude of injuries, including multi-planar brusing, a nasal bone fracture, a skull fracture, a femur fracture, a brain bleed and altered mental status. They concluded the injuries could not have occurred the way Cuny described them and contacted authorities.

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Cuny will receive credit for 514 days of time served and be eligible for parole in 10 years. Her mandatory discharge date will come in 15 years, if she earns all of her good behavior time.

Her attorney, Jon Worthman, sought a sentence of three to six years, saying that while Cuny’s story had changed over the course of time, she has always said she doesn’t remember what happened the night of her daughter’s injuries. And while it doesn’t excuse the behavior, he said, the child appears to have no lasting effects from the incident.

Prosecutor Zachary Blackman, argued for the longer sentence, in part because Cuny hasn’t taken full responsibility for the incident, changing her story and even blaming another individual during the pre-sentencing investigation.

“The nature of the case is severe. The victim was 10-months-old. She was unable to protect herself,” Blackman said.

“There are pretty serious consequences for the victim in this case. She’s frankly lucky to be alive,” Blackman said, adding that the girl must travel to Denver twice a year for follow-ups with her doctors to ensure there are no lasting effects from the beating.

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