Two teenage Arkansas parents whose 2-week-old daughter was bitten by rats nearly 100 times, face jail time for allowing drastic injury to come to their baby.
Erica Shryock, 19, and Charles Elliott, 18, faced Judge Hamilton Singleton on Thursday, Feb. 1, in a court in Arkansas, and initially faced two felony charges, 20 years in prison and up to $21,000 in fines, according to Arkansas Online. But by pleading guilty to a lesser charge of permitting the abuse of a minor, the felony charge of first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor was dropped.
The young pair now faces 5 years in prison for letting their 15-day-old girl suffer so many injuries from rodents that she had to undergo extensive reconstruction surgery on her skull.
The pair will be eligible for parole after 304 days, defense attorney Joseph Churchwell said. Since the time they have already spent in lockup counts towards their sentence, they could be out within 30 days.
“It’s as good as we were going to get,” Churchwell said after the court hearing.
Shryock and Elliott were living in a house with a known rodent problem and on May 14, 2017, awoke to find their baby covered in blood and with dozens of rat bites on her arms, hands, face, and fingers.
Investigators later found the infant’s cot filled with blood.
There were bloody rat footprints throughout the rundown property and a blanket that was soaked in blood.
Both teen parents admitted using crystal meth and K2 in the days before the rat attack.
Dr. Karen Farst at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock told investigators that the parents were either “absent or incapacitated to not have responded” because the “rat feeding” would have gone on for several hours and the baby would have likely been screaming in distress.
Shrykcok and Elliott were abused kids themselves and grew up in the foster care system.
Both dropped out of school when they were in grade nine.
“Neither of these kids had a chance,” Churchwell said. “They were homeless teenagers who aged out of the foster system.”
‘They should have never been allowed to leave the hospital with the baby when she was born,” Churchwell said. “This is DHS’ [Department of Human Services] fault. Why did they wait until this baby’s face was chewed on by rats?”
The baby girl, who was born prematurely and underweight, has now been adopted.
Elliott has two other children in state custody.