What Happens Next In A Muskogee Child Abuse Case

Wednesday, September 27th 2006, 10:02 am
By: News On 6

What's next for an abused Muskogee baby? The maiming happened last winter. The teenage mother pleaded guilty this week and won't go to prison as long as she testifies against the father and completes a counseling program.

Charges were dropped against the father, but they were re-filed Wednesday afternoon. So now, the question is 'what happens to the baby?'

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says people involved in this case call it one of the worst they've ever seen.

A 4-month-old with two broken wrists, an elbow so badly broken, it will forever be deformed, even after surgeries, broken ribs and a fractured skull. Muskogee Police say from the time he was born, this baby knew nothing but pain. Now, it's possible, his parents could get him back.

Trip Alexander Scott is a beautiful child, despite the first tortured months of his life. Muskogee Police say Trip's mother, Melinda Burnett, described the abuse to them. She says the baby's father, Harley Scott, did it, the stories are horrifying. Muskogee Police Sgt AJ Rudd: "On a daily basis, Harley picks this baby up and shakes this baby and squeezes it till it stops breathing and she sits back and watches and then says Harley, stop and he does for a little while, but, he does it everyday, like a game."

She also says they used the baby in tug-of-war matches, pulling and twisting him and says Scott also dropped the baby on the floor. "She takes the baby and puts it on the bed, because he's probably going to go into convulsions. She leaves because she's scared he's gonna die. She comes back an hour or two later. He's crying, but, he's still alive."

Dr. Fred Ruefer with Muskogee Bone and Joint Clinic examined Trip when his grandmother brought him to the ER after seeing terrible bruises. He hopes he never sees another case like this and worries what will happen if Trip ends up back with his parents. "I don't think the parents are capable of caring for this child. I believe the child is at significant risk of this happening again if he's placed back with these parents."

That could happen. The father already has weekly supervised visits and since the mother is not going to prison, visitation will likely begin for her as well. If the two complete the programs set up by DHS and the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the next step is custody.

Dr. Fred Reufer: "It seems the people dealing with this are more interested in getting the child back to the parents instead of protecting the child and I don't understand that."

Melinda Burnett's attorney told the News on 6, he expects her program to be every extensive. If she messes up between now and next May when she turns 19, she could go to prison for seven years. If she doesn't mess up, her record will be sealed, like the maiming charge never existed.

He says she was young, in an abusive relationship and deserves a second chance. He says severing families should be a last resort and he doesn't expect she could get custody of Trip any time soon.

Trip is now living with a relative and said to be doing well.