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Baby-sitter who broke baby's skull given 4-year prison term

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It was a matter of about 10 minutes, her attorney said, but it changed the lives of a 21-year-old single mother and an infant in her care.

A tearful Crystal Barnett was sentenced in Lucas Common Pleas Court yesterday to four years in prison for severely injuring her stepsister's daughter.

Barnett, of 5406 Harvest Lane, entered a plea of no contest July 15 to a charge of felony child endangering and was convicted of pushing Olivia Thomas, then 8 months old, into a dresser, which fractured the little girl's skull.

But what Barnett's attorney described as 10 minutes when "she made a mistake," the child's mother called actions that warranted time behind bars.

"My daughter almost died that night. It's a miracle today that my kid is even alive," Amber Thomas said in court yesterday. "My daughter deserves better than that."

Emergency crews responded to Barnett's home April 13 on a report of an unconscious person and took the child to Toledo Hospital, where the fractured skull and bleeding were discovered.

Authorities said Barnett, who was baby-sitting the child, initially told police her 2-year-old son pushed the baby off a bed. She changed her story to say she accidentally dropped the child in the kitchen while reaching into the refrigerator, then changed it again to admit pushing the child off her lap into a dresser, assistant prosecutors said.

Ms. Thomas said her daughter still suffers effects from her injuries, although authorities said the child has recovered well.

Attorney Beau Harvey asked Judge Frederick McDonald to consider Barnett's actions after the event when sentencing her. He said her quick call to 911 probably saved the child's life.

"Ms. Barnett, on April 13, has a 10-minute time period she wishes she can take back," he said. "Up to this point, she's been a pretty model citizen, she's been a good mother. And for 10 minutes, she made a mistake."

As part of the plea agreement, assistant prosecutors recommended a three-year sentence to Judge McDonald, although it was noted that Ms. Thomas did not approve of the cap. Judge McDonald called the act a "senseless injury to an 8-month-old child" and pointed out that the little girl was still "suffering effects."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.

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