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March 4, 2013

Trial still scheduled in child abuse case

GREENVILLE — Trial is still scheduled for a second defendant indicted in connection with a reported child abuse case from December 2011.

Trevor Scott Copeland of Quinlan was convicted last month in connection with the same incident and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

The second defendant charged in the case, Erin Elizabeth Saari of West Tawakoni, has pleaded not guilty.

During Copeland’s trial prosecutors announced Saari had agreed to testify against Copeland, in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge and a sentence of two years in a state jail.

But as of Friday afternoon, court records indicated Saari’s trial on the original charge — which had been scheduled for March 11 — had been reset for May 6, with a final pretrial hearing scheduled in the court for April 10.

Saari, 23, and Copeland, 25, each received one indictment from the Hunt County grand jury for injury to a child by an act.

Saari and Copeland were arrested on Dec. 14, 2011 and remain in custody at the Hunt County Jail. Saari and Copeland were charged in what authorities claimed was an assault on Saari’s 2 year-old daughter.

The indictment alleged the pair injured the child by “punching, kicking, hitting with blunt force trauma and/or strangling with hands, fists, ground, and/or an object unknown to the grand jury.”

The child recovered from the injuries.

Investigators with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office became involved with the case after receiving a Dec. 7, 2011 call from the Hunt Regional Medical Center.

The child’s injuries were initially reported as being received after falling out of a first floor residential window.

According to investigators, Saari reported the fall occurred sometime during the overnight hours, although Sheriff Randy Meeks said upon initial observations, the child was allegedly found to have bruising to her forehead, both sides of the head, the neck, chest, abdomen, both arms and both legs.

Meeks said the injuries observed by the deputies seemed inconsistent with Saari’s account, and investigators and Child Protective Services were contacted and responded to the hospital.

Meeks said multiple tests conducted by medical staff found the child needed to be transported to another hospital for further treatment.

Meeks indicated that additional interviews with Saari revealed Copeland was living with them at the time of the report. Interviews with the couple revealed they believed the child opened an outside window and fell to the ground during the night.

However, investigators and medical staff believed that the injuries sustained by the child were the results of an assault.

The injury to a child charge is a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum sentence upon conviction of from five to 99 years to life in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000.

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