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Woman sentenced in child abuse case

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

Kayla Bixler, 28, of Marion, will serve 10 years for neglect after a 4-year-old boy in her care was severely beaten in 2015.

The 2015 incidents left him with a permanent medical condition that requires a shunt, or tube, in his brain.

“That will be there for life,” Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Glancy said.

The boy had “bleeding on the brain, a subdural hematoma as well as retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes” when he arrived at Riley Hospital on Oct. 22, 2015, according to the probable cause affadavit for Bixler's arrest. His body was also covered in bruises everywhere from his thighs and chest to his eyelids, court filings indicate.

Bixler and boyfriend Christopher Leahy, 33, first told police that Leahy and the boy had fallen down some stairs. They claimed the child had also fallen a week earlier while playing in a park and the fall down the stairs had reopened a head wound.

Later, Bixler admitted to police that Leahy had regularly hit the 4-year-old and that the child was often covered in bruises, scrapes or abrasions from those beatings.

“On one occasion … She witnessed Christopher pick (the child) up by his neck and throw him across the room,” the probable cause affadavit reads.

Leahy also pushed the boy into an entertainment center one night, according to Bixler's testimony, resulting in the first head wound.

Bixler told police she didn't take the child to the hospital at the time because she “did not want to get in trouble and did not want to have to explain how it happened.”

On Oct. 22, Bixler told police she came home from work to find the boy “laying on the bed screaming and unresponsive to any questions … (his) eyes were closed and when he tried to open his eyes, his eyes rolled back in his head as he continued to lay there screaming,” according to court filings.

Leahy told Bixler he had hit the 4-year-old in the head and that they “had to come up with a different story before taking him to the hospital.”

According to Bixler's testimony, that's when Leahy hit on the idea of saying he fell down the stairs with the boy. Bixler said they “even staged having fallen down so that other witnesses could corroborate what they're saying.”

Leahy lay on the floor at the bottom of the stairs so Bixler could get another woman to “witness” him there, according to the affadavit.

Leahy was arrested days later on charges of neglect of a dependent and three counts of battery resulting in bodily injury.

He pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced in September 2018 to 28 years incarceration.

Bixler pleaded guilty to three felonies: one count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury and two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury.

She was sentenced Friday to 10 years, with six years executed and four years on probation.

Glancy also said Bixler was given approval to enter the Purposeful Incarceration Program while in prison to help treat her addiction problems.

Glancy said the boy, now 8 years old, and siblings are in the custody of a grandparent.