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Parents of infant bitten by rats could be released soon

Charles Elliott and Erica Shryock

MAGNOLIA, Ark. — The Arkansas parents accused of allowing their newborn daughter to be bitten by rats more than 100 times could be out of jail sooner rather than later.

On Thursday, the couple, 19-year-old Charles Elliott and 18-year-old Erica Shryock, agreed to plead guilty to one count of permitting the abuse of a minor – a felony charge. In exchange, they were sentenced to five years behind bars and the second charge of endangering the welfare of a minor was dropped.

The deal means the couple could theoretically be released in the next couple of weeks.

According to Arkansas Online, the pair are eligible for parole after having served only 304 days. They also received credit for the days spent in jail awaiting the start of trial, which added up to be 293 days.

Their attorney is hopeful that they will be released within the next 30 days.

It’s a shocking development in the widely publicized case in which a 15-day-old child was found to have bite wounds on her arms, fingers, hands and face when she was taken to the hospital back in May. Police told KARK that the baby had a one-inch wound on her forehead so deep that her skull was visible.

A mental evaluation of the pair suggested both suffer mental illness, but were competent to stand trial.

During that meeting, Shryock said in the week leading up to the arrest she had used marijuana, K2 and methamphetamine along with prescribed Tylenol with codeine.

Police spoke with Elliott’s mother, the child’s grandmother, who said he told her a mouse bit the baby and that he was worried about losing custody.

Elliott’s mother allegedly told him he should take the girl to a hospital anyway.

Investigators then spoke with Shyrock, who said she woke up to the baby screaming on Sunday morning and found her covered in blood, according to KARK. Authorities said Elliott gave a similar statement, adding that when he went to clean up the blood, he saw rat footprints in the crib.

Shyrock said that she knew rats were in their home, but that she and Elliott hadn’t done anything to solve the problem, police said.

When police searched the home they found a bassinet with bloody rat footprints and a baby’s hat and blanket soaked in blood.

A doctor at Arkansas Children’s Hospital said the baby girl suffered severe skin deconstruction “from rat feeding,” and that it would have taken hours for the injuries to occur, according to KSLA.

The doctor concluded that the parents were either incapacitated or not present when the rodent or rodents continuously bit the girl.

The baby was taken into state custody and has since been adopted.