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Archive for Friday, October 20, 1995

LANGDON MAKES PLEA IN CHILD ABUSE CASE

October 20, 1995

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A judge heard Thursday how a Lawrence infant was abused by her baby sitter.

Last week, Katherine Langdon issued a public apology for hurting an infant who had been left in her care. On Thursday, she was convicted of abusing the child.

Langdon, 40, entered no contest pleas to charges alleging that on July 11 and 21, she physically abused Mariah J. Mussetter, daughter of Troy and Kellie Mussetter, 3911 Tumbleweed Ct. When the abuse was discovered, Mariah was almost 11 weeks old.

In return for the plea, prosecutors dismissed a third child abuse charge that stemmed from an incident that occurred July 21 in the day-care center Langdon operated at her former Lawrence home. She now lives in Topeka.

Each of the felony charges carries a possible prison sentence of 31 to 34 months. Under the state's sentencing guidelines, it is presumed that a prison sentence will be imposed. However, the sentencing judge can grant probation without departing from the guidelines.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9.

Langdon quivered slightly as she stood behind the lectern to enter her plea before District Judge Ralph King Jr. She answered King's questions in a strong voice but wiped tears from her eyes several times during the brief hearing.

King heard the story of the abuse done to Mariah as Assistant Dist. Atty. Frank Diehl related what the state's evidence would have shown had Langdon gone to trial.

Diehl described how Mariah was taken July 21 to the Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency room, where doctors determined she had a fracture in the back of her skull and was bleeding inside her brain. She was then transferred by emergency helicopter to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Doctors at that hospital later discovered a second skull fracture and evidence that some of Mariah's ribs had been broken seven to 10 days earlier.

Diehl said Langdon later described for police detectives what she had done to Mariah.

"The defendant admitted she had at least put the child down hard enough on the basement floor to cause the skull fracture," Diehl said. "That area was a concrete floor covered by carpet. She said she forced the child's head down against the basement floor and the child would not stop crying."

Diehl said Langdon also admitted that she had squeezed the baby hard enough on another occasion to cause the rib fractures.

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