A 26-year-old Malcolm woman was sentenced to six years in prison Friday for abusing a 5-year-old girl so badly she suffered a brain bleed.
Cassondra Karst asked Lancaster County District Judge Susan Strong to give her probation so she could better herself "before I even think about ever having my kids back."
Todd Molvar of the public defender's office said probation would help Karst grow, and she has already taken steps while in jail to get her GED.
Molvar said his client would not be a threat to her children, who are in foster care, because she would be supervised during visits.
But Strong denied her request, saying probation would depreciate the seriousness of her crime.
Karst called 911 on June 16 to report the girl fell down the stairs and was unconscious but breathing, the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said.
When deputies arrived they found the 5-year-old on the kitchen floor on the opposite side of the home from the stairs, court documents said.
Hospital staff later told deputies the girl had bruises in different stages of healing all over her body, and a CT scan discovered a brain bleed, according to court documents.
A doctor at Children's Hospital in Omaha said the girl's head injury could have been fatal and was caused by blunt-force trauma or being shaken, court documents said.
Department of Health and Human Services officials took the girl into emergency custody after she was released from the hospital.
In October, Karst and her fiance, Bruce Sampson, were arrested on suspicion of intentional child abuse resulting in injury.
Investigators found text conversations between them referring to child abuse, court documents said.
Karst, in one exchange, told Sampson the girl was upsetting her too much. "I can't handle it," her message reportedly said.
In his reply, court documents say, Sampson told her to smack the girl harder, and Karst said, "I've tried I can't I'm too upset I'm shaking."
Karst pleaded no contest to reduced child-abuse charges, and Strong sentenced her to the maximum of three years on both counts.
After her release, she must serve 18 months post-release supervision.
The case against Sampson is pending.
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