Oct. 21-MOUNT VERNON, Mo. - A 30-year-old Springfield man was assessed a suspended imposition of sentence and probation when he pleaded guilty this month to physical abuse of his Mount Vernon girlfriend's toddler son.
Michael D. Burden pleaded guilty Oct. 12 in Lawrence County Circuit Court to a felony count of child abuse in a plea deal calling for the suspended imposition of sentence. Judge David Cole accepted the plea bargain and placed Burden on supervised probation for five years with 200 hours of community service to perform.
The conviction pertains to injuries the son of Taylor Shearer suffered in the defendant's care while Shearer was at work Dec. 10, 2020.
The mother reported the matter to police two days later, telling them that when she returned home she discovered a large amount of bruising on the child, who was about a month short of his third birthday. She told Mount Vernon police there was a large mark like a handprint on her son's cheek and similar marks on his neck, shoulder and back side of a thigh, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Shearer told police that Burden admitted spanking the child for "being bad" and claimed the bruising was just from "playing rough" with him.
Burden was interviewed and admitted to lashing the boy on his leg multiple times with a belt and possibly causing bruising to his arm by holding him too tight, according to the affidavit.