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Man pleads guilty to neglect in child abuse case, could avoid jail time

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — A 20-year-old man has pleaded guilty to neglect charges after a child in his care sustained a serious head injury.

Fort Wayne’s NBC previously reported that 26-year-old Mercedes Tyree left her children at home with her boyfriend Zachary Copeland, 20.

Court documents say that in November of 2018, Copeland said he was playing video games when he found the 2-year-old on the floor. He later told police that he dropped the girl when he was holding her to his chest.

In court on Tuesday, Copeland’s plead guilty to neglect of a dependent, dropping his battery charge. The plea deal calls for a sentence of six years, four of which will be spent behind bars and the remaining two will be served on probation.

However, Copeland could serve the four years in a work release program instead of behind bars if the court deems he is eligible for the program. A decision will be made when he is formally sentenced.

When the incident happened in late 2018, Copeland allegedly called the child’s mother, Tyree, and told her the child fell. Court documents say Tyree claimed she was reluctant to take the girl to the hospital because she doesn’t like going. She later decided to take the girl in.

Doctors found the girl had a head injury causing blood to collect outside of her brain, and bruising on her ear and on multiple parts of her body.

Tyree is currently facing one charge of neglect. Her jury trial is set for November 20 and 21.

Jazlynn Bebout

Jazlynn Bebout is the Assignment Desk Editor and Digital Editor at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @jazlynnsb

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