A man and his wife, former Swain County residents who now live in Caldwell County, pleaded guilty today to neglect and child abuse charges stemming from severe injuries inflicted on a four-year-old boy in their care, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.
Daniel Crowder, 42, and Diane Crowder, 42, each pleaded guilty in Swain County Superior Court to three criminal charges: felony child abuse by negligently failing to seek medical treatment and that failure resulted in serious bodily injury and two counts misdemeanor child abuse.
Judge Peter Knight handed down identical sentences. He ordered the Crowders to each serve active terms in the state Division of Adult Corrections of 25 months minimum to 42 months maximum, the most allowed for that charge under state law.
He consolidated the misdemeanor child abuse charges for the purposes of sentencing, ordering an additional 75 days active time in Swain County’s jail upon release from state prison.
In 2016, Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran said when the child arrived at the ER on April 4, he was unresponsive and had a body temperature of 87 degrees. His injuries included two traumatic brain injuries and a spinal cord injury.
The child suffered permanent brain damage and, because of a spinal-cord injury, now has difficulty walking.
The Crowders were not the biological parents, but at that time, they were the primary caregivers. In addition to the victim, there were half a dozen other children in the care of the Crowders, all of whom were found to be found in deplorable conditions.
In three months, between a visit to a health clinic with the biological father and the subsequent stay in the Crowders home, the child dropped from 58 pounds to 38 pounds. According to the doctor’s notes, he was an “alert, smiling, active and playful” child while at the health clinic.
Now aged 10, the child has since been adopted. He continues to receive counseling, treatment and regular assessments.
Assistant district attorneys Chris Matheson and Kimberly Harris prosecuted the case. Swain County Sheriff’s Office detectives conducted the investigation.