By Margie Wuebker
In a voice that was barely audible, a Celina woman admitted Wednesday afternoon to shaking her infant daughter nearly a year ago. The action resulted in serious brain impact injuries with lingering effects.
Jaclyn Knutzen, 24, 321 Brandon Ave., entered the guilty plea to one count of child endangering as part of a negotiated arrangement in Mercer County Common Pleas Court. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss one count of felonious assault, also a second-degree felony.
Knutzen will be sentenced Sept. 13. She faces up to eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Defense attorney Kathryn Speelman had filed an earlier motion to suppress statements her client made to law enforcement authorities during the course of the investigation. Judge Jeffrey Ingraham ruled against the motion, noting the length, intensity and frequency of the interrogations seemed appropriate under the circumstances.
"The court can find no threats or inducements by law enforcement that would be inconsistent with the defendant having exercised her right to make a statement knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily," Ingraham wrote. The motion claimed Knutzen made the statements under coercion, threat and intimidation and without being advised of her rights against self-incrimination.
Officials at Children's Medical Center in Dayton contacted Celina Police during the early morning hours of Sept. 3 to report the admission of a 31Ú2-month-old girl for treatment of internal injuries consistent with "shaken baby" syndrome.
Detective Ron Waltmire and an investigator from Mercer County Child and Family Services interviewed Knutzen regarding what had happened at Williamsburg Square Apartments, her home at the time.
Knutzen reportedly told them she did not recall the specifics of how her daughter had been injured, noting the thumb prints may have come while placing the baby in or removing her from a crib. She also said she might have allowed the child's head to contact a wall while being carried.
During a subsequent interview at the hospital Sept. 9, Knutzen offered a different recollection as to the number of times she had gotten up with the child and noted the injuries could have occurred while rocking her.
Waltmire briefly spoke with Knutzen Sept. 20 and requested she take a voice analysis stress test. The test was administered Nov. 2. by Mercer County Sheriff's Detective Pat Elking who orally advised her of Fifth Amendment rights and indicated she could leave at any time.
Knutzen reportedly admitted harboring anger toward the baby's father for not supporting her and helping care for the baby and an older child. She also suspected him of being unfaithful.
The woman explained she had worked at a fast food restaurant until 1 a.m. and was awakened by the baby. After telling the baby to be quiet and trying unsuccessfully to rouse the father, she admitted "probably" shaking the baby. She reportedly asked Elking whether it was possible to shake a baby and not remember.
The final interview took place Dec. 7 in the office of Daniel Myers, her attorney at the time. Calvin Freeman, assistant police chief, asked her to recall the events leading up to her taking the baby to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater.
Knutzen said she shook the crying baby and placed it in the crib, never intending to inflict harm or realizing that she had injured the child. She sought medical help at Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater later in the day when she was unable to rouse her. The case was presented to a Mercer County grand jury Dec. 15, resulting in a two-count indictment.