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Woman claims boy's injuries an accident
The Denver Post | September 30, 2000

ARAPAHOE COUNTY - Day-care provider Shawna Pint admitted she caused the nearly fatal injuries of her 14-month-old charge, Hunter Rodriguez, but said it was an accident when she pushed him to the floor headfirst after he kicked her in the stomach.

Pint, 31, said that the boy was kicking and flailing as she changed his diapers. She was holding him about 18 inches from the floor when the toddler kicked her in the abdomen. Operating on reflex, she shoved the child from her and his body arched headfirst into her carpet, she said.

At her sentencing hearing Friday, Pint tearfully pleaded for leniency, saying that she never intended to hurt the boy.

"I'm truly, truly sorry. I pray for him every day," Pint said. "I must tell you this was definately unintentional."

But her confession to child-protection experts made in July as part of plea bargin has failed to convince the prosecution and the parents of the boy severely injured by the abuse on Oct. 19, 1998.

"With my mother's tuition, I know in my heart she is lying. She can't hide it from me," Jacqueline Rodriguez told Judge John Leopold.

But the sentence that Greg and Jacqueline Rodriguez awaited for so long will be delayed until Oct. 24. Leopold postponded a final decision on the sentence until a report on Pint's eligibility for a halfway house can be determined.

The courtroom was tense as members of the Rodriguez family, which included Hunter's parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and great-uncles, packed in. They wore T-shirts imprinted with "Justice for Hunter."

Defense attorney Patrick Mulligan argued that Pint, a loving mother without any criminal history, should get probation.

But prosecutor John Hower requested that Pint be sentenced to six years in prison as punishment for her inability to control her behavior.

Hower said Pint's confession minimized her role in causing the boy to spend days in a coma with shaken-baby syndrome, then months in rehabilitation trying to recover from severe brain and eye injuries.

Dr. Naresh Mondava, an expert on eye damage from the University of Colorado Medical Center, testified that the blood found in Hunter's eyes could not be explained by Pint's account.

Pint's attorney countered that experts from the Kempe Center, a child-protection agency, never questioned Pint's story.

Hunter's father shook with anger as he expressed his frustration that his son would never play ball, graduate from school or drive a car.

Greg Rodriguez said he left home that morning planning to return to spend time with his son and watch a Broncos football game. Instead, he ended his day at the hospital while priest gave the boy last rites.

"(Pint's confession) was two years too late. Too late to help at all," Rodriguez said.

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