October 26, 2012

WeeCare employee arrested, charged with child abuse

James Bright
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — Kaitlyn Murphy, the WeeCare employee accused of breaking a toddler's arm last week, was arrested last night and charged with one count of child abuse by a caretaker.

Major Elip Moore of the Chickasha Police Department said the investigation involving this particular incident has concluded.

"We have been able to finish with this one complaint," he said. "We will continue to investigate the situation further."

Moore said CPD does not want to clear anyone else yet.

"We want to make sure we look into everything and make sure this is an isolated incident," he said.

The child, 13-month-old Gunner McConnell, was sent home from WeeCare with an injured arm that was later diagnosed as a spiral fracture, a break that is caused by force.

Grady County Assistant District Attorney Leah Edwards said child abuse by a caretaker is punishable up to life in prison.

"Since it is violent crime, 85 percent of the sentence most be served before the convict is eligible for parole."

Edwards said the incident is tragic.

"Parents should feel that their children are safe when they drop them off at daycare," she said.

CPD released an affidavit detailing what WeeCare Director Mandi Woods witnessed regarding interaction between Murphy and McConnell.

"Woods informed Officer Hobbs that Kaitlyn Murphy  is GBM's (McConnell's) teacher and that she had showed signs of frustration with the children over the past two days and that she (Woods) has been keeping an eye on her," the affidavit states.

The affidavit also states that Murphy told CPD during an interview that she was not sure how McConnell had been hurt, but that she may have been too rough with him while trying to get him to take a nap.

Murphy also stated in the interview that when she gets mad she will forget what happens and that she does have anger problems.

Edwards complimented CPD for how they handled this case and said she plans to seek a high bond for Murphy.

"CPD did an excellent job in their investigation," she said. "The did what they had to in order to make the evidence stick."

McConnell's mother, Desira Gwin said the toddler's bone above his left elbow was broken in half.

Gwin said CPD officers showed her still pictures from video surveillance in Murphy's classroom.

"You could see the aggravation on her face toward Gunner," she said. "Ever since he's moved up to her room he has screamed and cried whenever I drop him off at daycare."

The affidavit states that Murphy was seen on video comparing McConnell's arms and that at one point she is seen lifting a mat up with McConnell on it, the walking toward a corner that is partially out of the camera's view and finally dropping the mat on the floor with McConnell on it.

Gwin said she was told by officers that video shows Murphy pick McConnell up, move him out of view of the camera. Gwin said she was told there were two blind spots in the room and Murphy took Gwin's child there multiple times.

Gwin said she does to continue sending McConnell and her daughter to WeeCare.