A Winston-Salem man was convicted Friday on charges that he punched his 2-month-old daughter in the face and caused numerous rib fractures.
Michael Dion Coleman II, 26, pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to three counts of felony child abuse, inflicting serious physical injury. Coleman was scheduled to go on trial next week on the charges before deciding to enter the guilty pleas.
As part of a plea arrangement, Judge Michael Duncan of Forsyth Superior Court consolidated Coleman’s charges into one and sentenced him to a minimum of three years and two months with a maximum sentence of four years and 10 months in prison.
Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Kia Chavious said the allegations of physical abuse were reported on July 28, 2016.
The girl’s mother took her to a pediatrician for a two-month wellness check. The doctor noticed bruising around the child’s right eye and bleeding in the eye, Chavious said. The mother told the doctor she had noticed some bruising a few weeks before coming into the doctor’s office. Chavious said there was nothing in the child’s medical record that could explain the injuries.
The doctor contacted Dr. Meggan Goodpasture, a pediatrician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who specializes in child abuse and neglect, and Goodpasture recommended that the child be brought to Brenner Children’s Hospital for further evaluation.
Chavious said that doctors at Brenner did a skeletal scan of the child and found seven broken bones, including rib fractures. The Winston-Salem Police Department and Child Protective Services at the Forsyth County Department of Social Services were contacted, and both agencies began investigating.
According to indictments, the child had two broken bones in her forearm and multiple broken ribs.
Chavious said that while doctors were talking with the mother, the girl’s 4-year-old brother said he saw Coleman punching the girl in the face. The prosecutor said the 4-year-old boy balled one hand into a fist and punched it into another hand to demonstrate what he claimed to have seen.
Chavious said a second skeletal scan showed 10 to 11 rib fractures, some of which were healing.
Coleman told doctors and later Winston-Salem police investigators that the 2-month-old slid down from his chest and rolled over into the crevice of the couch he was sitting on.
But Chavious said the baby couldn’t walk or roll over so it would be impossible for her to get those injuries that way.
“There was no accidental cause to the constellation of injuries,” she said.
Beth Toomes, Coleman’s attorney, said there were questions about the reliability of the brother’s statements to doctors and later to police.
Toomes said other family members had access to the child, and Coleman had denied the allegations.
She asked the judge to accept the plea deal.