Casper Man Ruled Mentally Competent, Plea Change Expected in Child Abuse Case
A man accused of child abuse is mentally fit to continue with court proceedings, a Natrona County District Court judge ruled Tuesday morning.
James Cody Sanders is charged with two counts of child abuse for events that allegedly occurred in May with a girl born in 2015, one count of aggravated child abuse of a 14-day-old boy in for events in January 2017, and one count of child abuse of an approximately 8-year-old boy born in 2010.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges in July. Sanders was initially set to change his plea in November but requested and was granted a mental health evaluation.
Sanders was deemed mentally fit to continue with court proceedings. Through his public defender, Dylan Rosalez, Sanders requested a second evaluation.
Rosalez said that Sanders has experienced a regression in his mental health while in jail.
Natrona County District Court Judge Kerri M. Johnson denied the request. A change of plea hearing is anticipated but a date for that has not yet been set.
The case began May 24 when a Casper police detective was called to the Wyoming Medical Center emergency room after being contacted by a Wyoming Department of Family Services investigator.
The detective observed a child, born in 2005, with bruising and other injuries over most of her body. Swelling to the child's head was, "to such extent that it caused a horrifying physical deformity," an affidavit of probable cause alleges.
On Jan. 29, 2017 Mills police and EMS responded to a residence after Sanders called the baby's mom and reported that he threw up and went limp.
The infant, who was born earlier in the month, had bruises on his face and trouble breathing. A CT scan showed the baby had a brain bleed. He was life-flighted to Children's Hospital Colorado.
Hospital staff advised Mills police that, if the baby survived, he would likely suffer permanent brain damage from his injuries.
Sanders faces up to 55 years in prison.