A Casper man will serve four years probation after a 5-year-old consumed meth under his care and needed to go to the hospital.

Rowdy Patterson was sentenced on four counts of child endangerment with methamphetamine. A fifth charge, child abuse, was dropped as part of an earlier plea agreement.

Assistant Natrona County District Attorney Mike Schafer said prosecuting the case was a low point.

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"The saddest thing I saw was a 5-year-old tweaking in a hospital bed," Schafer said.

Though Schafer asked for a 4- to 5-year prison sentence, Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey sentenced Patterson to four years of probation with a suspended 53- to 60-month prison sentence.

For his part, Patterson said he has been clean and sober for the better part of a year.

"I made a mistake," Patterson said. "I realize how horrible of a drug methamphetamine is."

When he was first charged, Patterson was accused of sprinkling methamphetamine on a chicken nugget that the child then ate. At the time of the incident, the child's mother was at work.

Though Patterson eventually pleaded guilty to the charges, he never explicitly admitted to giving the child meth. Instead, Patterson simply admitted that the child must have eaten his methamphetamine at some point — something that his defense attorney, Don Fuller, emphasized.

"There's no downplaying the horror of this case," Fuller said, adding that the methamphetamine wasn't sprinkled on the child's food.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Patterson and the child's mother had recently separated but still lived in the same residence.

The affidavit states that the child's mother returned from work at roughly 9:30 p.m. March 28 to find one of the children, a 5-year-old, acting "very strange." The child's pupils were reportedly dilated and he "didn't seem to have control."

That prompted the child's mother to eventually take the child to the Wyoming Medical Center emergency room while three other children remained at the residence with Patterson. Court documents state the child was given a urine test for methamphetamine, which came back positive.

According to the affidavit, the child made references to eating something that looked like "snow" on his dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget. The child reportedly said Patterson bit the head off one nugget and gave the rest to the child. Court documents allege the child said the "snow" was sour, and he didn't like it, but he ate his chicken nuggets.

As soon as the child's mother learned the 5-year-old tested positive for methamphetamine, she had a family member get the other three children from the household. When he was told the child tested positive for methamphetamine, Patterson allegedly kept saying he was sorry, court documents state.