DILLON — A Dillon woman pleaded no contest last week to shaking a toddler so hard that she went into a coma.
Wendy Graham, 25, entered her plea before District Judge Loren Tucker in Dillon. Graham pleaded no contest to criminal endangerment under the terms of a plea agreement she reached with Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch, he said.
Graham was initially charged in May 2008 with aggravated assault for the incident, which occurred in January 2008. She allegedly shook a 2-year-old girl that Graham was babysitting so hard that she suffered brain injuries and had to be flown to a hospital in Spokane, Wash., court records said.
The plea agreement came just days before Graham was scheduled to go on trial. Tucker ordered a pre-sentence investigation in the case.
According to court records, County Sheriff Jay Hansen was the first to arrive on the scene the night of Jan. 24, 2008, when an ambulance was called to a trailer in Dillon. Hansen immediately gave CPR to the girl.
Graham told responders that the girl had fallen from a chair and was knocked out, court records said. Hansen and Undersheriff Jake Heinecke were able to resuscitate the girl, and she was flown to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.
Doctors from the hospital indicated that the injuries that included brain hematomas and hemorrhaging were caused by serious shaking.
“It was impossible from a fall,” Fitch said. “It would have had to be a three-story fall to cause that much damage.”
The girl remained in a coma, and her parents had made the decision to end life support, but afterward she survived. She remains in a wheelchair, Fitch said.
The plea agreement calls for a 10-year commitment to the state Department of Corrections, with all of the time suspended, as well as a host of conditions including counseling and treatment. Tucker is not bound under state law to accept the agreement.
Graham was represented by state public defenders Walter Hennessey and Deirdre Caughlin.