A Casper man was sentenced to a three- to five-year prison term for child abuse during a hearing in Natrona County District Court on Friday.

Mitchell Alan McCain, 24, will serve that concurrently with a prison sentence for a previous burglary conviction, Judge Daniel Forgey said.

In October, McCain entered an Alford plea to a single child abuse charge as part of an agreement that dismissed two counts of aggravated child abuse.

By entering an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but does concede that the state likely has enough evidence to obtain a conviction should the case go to trial.

For sentencing purposes, the court treats an Alford plea as a guilty plea.

According to charging papers, a detective with the Casper Police Department began investigating the case in June 2017 after the victim -- a two-and-a-half-year-old girl -- was seen at the Wyoming Medical Center emergency room for a suspicious femur fracture.

The same femur had been broken two months previously. When interviewed by a detective, McCain said the first injury had occurred as a result of a dog accidentally knocking a child down the stairs.

After interviewing McCain, the child's mother, her family members and others, the detective was told that there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against McCain.

But in late August 2017, the detective learned that the Department of Family Services had received a report that the same child had suffered significant bruising on her leg. The bruise reportedly was shaped like a handprint.

The detective concluded that the child could only have suffered the bruise when being put to bed by McCain on Aug. 26. While being evaluated by a doctor, the victim reportedly made a statement which indicated that McCain inflicted the injury.

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