Weatherford Democrat

March 22, 2013

Woman sentenced to 15 years prison in severe child injury case

Defendant had history of child abuse, neglect complaints and investigations, officials say


Weatherford Democrat

— FROM STAFF REPORTS

A 38-year-old Weatherford woman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison today for recklessly allowing her baby to become overheated in July 2011, resulting in severe brain damage to the child.

Misty Leann Plyler, also known as Misty Leeann Coleman, pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious bodily injury to a child in district court in Weatherford on March 15 with the sentencing taking place today pursuant to a plea agreement. Plyler faced a sentence ranging from probation to 20 years in prison.

The child was just 5 months old at the time of the incident.

“We know that the victim was with her mother, but we don’t know exactly how the injuries occurred,” said Assistant District Attorney Nikki Morton, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise. “What we do know is that when her mother finally brought her to the hospital, her temperature was 107.5 degrees, that she was non-responsive and having seizures. The doctors said Plyler’s version of events did not seem consistent with the child’s symptoms, which were more consistent with having been left in a hot car.”

Plyler’s statements to Parker County sheriff’s investigators about where she was and what she was doing during the hours leading up to the emergency room trip were also not consistent with statements by other witnesses and phone records, Morton said. Drug abuse is believed to be tied to the situation based upon drug testing done on Plyler within weeks of the incident.

The child is physically and mentally delayed due to the brain injury she suffered as a result of the heatstroke, Morton said.

“She is fed through a feeding tube and she cannot sit up or hold her head up on her own for more than just a few seconds. The little girl cannot speak or crawl and, for all intents and purposes, is blind,” Morton said.

“Drugs seemed to play a large part in many of Plyler’s poor decisions regarding her four children,” DuBoise said. “CPS had been involved with her multiple times prior to the heatstroke incident. The defendant had a prior citation from Weatherford police officers for leaving a child unattended in a car in winter 2008.”

Plyler had previously given birth to a different child that had drugs in his system at birth, Morton said. She was also investigated several times for neglect, abuse or drug use by CPS authorities. Her parental rights to the three oldest children were terminated prior to the July 3, 2011, heatstroke incident with the youngest child.

In a hearing in November 2011, District Judge Graham Quisenberry terminated her parental rights to the victim.

After the sentencing hearing, the victim’s father said that his now ex-wife Plyler, “cared more about herself and drugs than [the victim]. Because of that, [the victim] is forever disabled. It breaks my heart to see what other children [the victim’s age] are able to do now and know that she will never be able to function on her own.”