Waco woman, Mansfield couple indicted in child abuse cases

FORT WORTH -- A teenage mother from Waco, accused of trying to suffocate her 4-month-old son while he was in a Fort Worth hospital, has been indicted on a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In a separate case, a Mansfield couple have been indicted on child-abuse charges involving the woman's two children and also face maximum life sentences.

In an indictment returned Sept. 29, Shantaniqua Scott, now 18, was charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and attempted capital murder.

Scott's baby was transferred in July from a Waco hospital to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth because of recurring, life-threatening gastroesophageal reflux and apnea, authorities said.

The infant was in a video-monitored room July 16 when an alarm sounded, indicating that his vital signs were failing, investigators said. After reviving the baby, hospital staffers reviewed video footage and saw Scott pressing a blanket and then her hand over her son's face, police said.

Investigators said they later determined that she had tried to suffocate the baby three times in the Waco hospital.

Scott was in the Tarrant County Jail on Thursday with bail set at $65,000. Her baby is in foster care.

Multiple charges for couple

Also on Sept. 29, a Tarrant County grand jury returned indictments against Adam Carroll Palmer and Ryka Telan Hopper, who are accused of abusing Hopper's 2-year-old and 5-year-old daughters.

Palmer, 27, was indicted on a child-injury charge, a first-degree felony. Investigators reported that he struck the 2-year-old's head against a hard surface, hit her head with a belt and shook her. The charge carries a maximum of life in prison.

Palmer was also indicted on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is accused of using a knife to cut two BBs from the girl's foot June 15. The second-degree felony carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The grand jury also indicted him on a charge of injury to a child causing bodily injury. Investigators said he struck the 5-year-old with his hand and a belt. That third-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The injuries were first reported when Hopper took the children to an Arlington hospital July 12. Palmer was arrested the same day after doctors said the unconscious 2-year-old had severe brain injuries, which they believed had been inflicted over days or weeks, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Palmer, who served prison time for a 2003 child injury case, remained in the Tarrant County Jail on Thursday. Bail was set at a total of $500,000, but he will not be released because of a parole violation.

The 2-year-old remains in critical condition in a long-term-care facility, authorities said.

Hopper, 27, was arrested July 27 and indicted last week on a charge of injury to a child by omission. She is accused of failing to get medical attention for her daughters. The first-degree felony charge carries a maximum of life in prison.

She told Mansfield police that on June 15, Palmer forced her to hold her daughter down while he used a knife to remove two BBs that he had fired into her foot. Two weeks later, Hopper told police, she found her daughter unconscious.

She said Palmer told her that the girl had had a seizure. When the child regained consciousness 16 hours later, Palmer picked her up and threw her to the floor because her crying woke him, Hopper told police.

Hopper remained in the Tarrant County Jail on Thursday with bail set at a total of $100,000.

Martha Deller, 817-390-7857