The Woodward News

Local News

August 7, 2012

Woodward woman charged with breaking her infant son's clavicle

Woodward, Okla. — A Woodward mother and her boyfriend have been charged in connection with an incident that left her then 9-month-old son with a broken shoulder bone.

Charleen Nicole Hart was charged on July 30 with one felony count of child abuse by injury and Ryan Steven Coffelt was charged with one felony count of enabling child abuse by injury.

According to affidavits filed with the charges, a witness told police that the infant was injured on or about March 25, 2012 when Hart allegedly "picked (him) up forcefully" out of his crib, and in doing so "struck (his) shoulder on the door frame."

The witness described the amount of force as "about a 7 to 8 with 10 being the most force one could use."  The woman also told investigators that when the boy's shoulder hit the door frame, "it made a loud sound."

Hart allegedly waited until the next day, on March 26, 2012, before taking the boy to the hospital "with a complaint that (he) would not move (his) right arm and symptoms came on suddenly," the affidavit states.  Upon medical examination, it was determined that the infant had "a fracture of the right clavicle."

Hart allegedly told doctors that her son had pulled a heavy box off a shelf, causing it to fall on him, the affidavit states.

The Department of Human Services then investigated.  According to the affidavit, "the DHS report shows that when interviewed, Coffelt told investigators a box of VHS tapes fell on (the infant), while Hart told investigators a box of canned goods fell on (him)."

When District Attorney's Investigator Robert Banks later confronted Hart during an interview on July 3, 2012, she claimed "she didn't realize she hit (the boy) against the doorframe and then said (he) did not cry or anything."  

But when her boyfriend was interviewed by Banks, also on July 3, "Coffelt said when Hart hit (the infant) against the wall she knew that she hit (him) because she reacted and asked him (Coffelt) to come help her," the affidavit states.

Coffelt also allegedly told investigators that they only waited "about half a day" before taking the boy to the hospital, claiming that the incident occurred between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. and "it was around 6 or 8 in the evening of the same day that they took (the infant) to the emergency room," the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Coffelt told investigators that he encouraged Hart to take the boy to the hospital because he felt "that something was broken" after noticing that the boy "was not putting any weight on the shoulder when he was crawling, which was unusual because (the infant) was into everything."

Banks notes in the affidavit that the incident in March was not the only time that DHS had received reports against Hart and Coffelt for allegedly hurting the boy.

"I reviewed the DHS reports and located entries that (the infant) had visible bruises and bite marks over the body.  Additionally there were entries indicating that allegations had been made against Hart and Coffelt in the past for slapping and hitting (the child)," Banks wrote.

According to court documents, Hart was in court for her initial appearance in the case on Aug. 2, 2012.  Her preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 12, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

Hart's bond was set at $20,000, but came with several conditions, including that she is ordered not to leave Woodward County unless medically necessary.  In addition she is ordered to keep all her doctor appointments and to not consume drugs or alcohol or do anything else that might harm her unborn child.

Coffelt made his first appearance in court for the case on Monday, Aug. 6.  His preliminary hearing was set for the same time and date as Hart's, on Feb. 12, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

He also faces a similar bond of $20,000 with the condition of no use of alcohol or other intoxicants and he must contact DHS weekly.


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