An Evansville teen pleaded no contest to a felony child abuse charge filed after he shook and seriously injured his 7-month-old daughter in February, according to 7th District Court documents.
A misdemeanor assault and battery charge was dropped as part of an agreement Anthony David Potter made with the district attorney's office, documents state. The assault charge was filed by police in connection with battery Potter, 19, allegedly inflicted on his girlfriend, the baby's mother, two days before the baby was hospitalized.
Before an agreement was struck Nov. 21, Potter's trial was set to begin Monday. He has not been sentenced and remains jailed on a $20,000 bond.
Don Tolin, the attorney representing Potter throughout the case, argued that the child's injuries could have been due to complications connected to a routine vaccination. Tolin made that argument before Natrona County Circuit Court Judge Mike Huber at Potter's preliminary hearing in March.
"We think there are alternate theories," Tolin told the judge, regarding how the baby was injured.
Investigator Chuck Davis, however, rebutted by saying that doctors who treated the baby first at the Wyoming Medical Center and later at Denver Children's Hospital agreed that the injuries were the result of having been shaken.
Tolin was not available Monday to comment on whether his client still contends it was the vaccination that caused the child's injury.
According to court documents, the baby girl was taken to the WMC by ambulance around 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3.
Despite reported efforts that Potter tried to resuscitate his daughter, emergency crews said they arrived at Potter's home in the 400 block of King Street to find the baby unresponsive.
The child was placed in intensive care but was later moved to pediatrics. She reportedly began to have seizures Feb. 6 and was flown to Denver.
The baby was placed in the custody of the Department of Family Services, which also took custody of a 3-year-old boy living in the home.
Tolin argued in court that the baby had received a vaccination for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) three days prior to being hospitalized.
He said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had warned that DPT vaccinations had, in the past, caused seizures in young children within seven days of receiving the shot.
"But not bilateral hemorrhaging," Davis replied.
Potter's girlfriend and the baby's mother, 25-year-old Sherri Dahlstedt, tearfully denounced the criminal charges filed against her boyfriend after the March hearing. She said prosecutors were wrong to disregard the possibility that the vaccine could have caused her daughter to suffer a seizure violent enough to cause the hemorrhaging.
Investigators said that, as a result of Potter's actions, the baby suffered vision damage and had to regain her cognitive skills.
Outside the courtroom that day, Dahlstedt denied that her baby had suffered either of those losses.