Austin Mother sent back to jail
mcDonald is found to have violated bond rules about avoiding contact with kids
A woman accused of smearing feces on a catheter leading into her daughter’s bloodstream was taken into custody Friday after she was found this month with a child, a violation of her pretrial release, a judge ruled.
State District Judge Julie Kocurek grant- ed a prosecutor’s motion to revoke Emily Beth McDonald’s bond.
On July 20, a Child Protective Services worker made an unannounced visit to McDonald’s parents’ home in Manor and found McDonald, who had been living at the property, with a child of about 3 at her side. The child was McDonald’s niece.
“I don’t consider this to be a superficial violation of the strict noncontact rule,” Kocurek said. “Frankly, it’s almost absurd to think children could be within that house and on that property.”
McDonald, 24, who could face up to life in prison if convicted of injury to a child, had been free on a personal recognizance bond since her June 2009 arrest.
She is accused of injuring her then3-year-old daughter in May 2009 at Dell Children’s Medical Center. As a condition of the bond, which was initially signed by state District Judge Charlie Baird, Kocurek ordered McDonald not to have contact with children.
But CPS worker Christi Waeltz testified that during the unannounced visit, which was made in preparation for a custody hearing, she encountered McDonald standing just behind her niece.
Waeltz testified that McDonald said,
“Now that you are awake, I have to go upstairs.” She said McDonald then left the room.
Prosecutor Jackie Wood had argued in a motion to revoke the bond that McDonald’s actions and the nature of the accusations against her “indicate that she is a great danger to children.”
“The defendant’s flagrant disregard for the court’s order” also illustrates the danger, Wood wrote.
McDonald’s lawyer, Bob Phillips, told Kocurek that McDonald was aware of the noncontact provisions and was simply announcing to her niece that she had to leave her side because she had woken up and entered the same room.
“The niece woke up and (McDonald) immediately started toward her side of the house,” Phillips said.
Phillips called as a witness Kimberly Legge, an officer with Travis County’s pretrial services who met with McDonald and monitored her movements. Legge testified that McDonald was mindful of the noncontact rules and testified that if McDonald was trying to avoid the niece, she would have been acting consistently with the noncontact rule.
But Wood said she should not have been anywhere near children. McDonald’s infant nephew was also on the property.
“The court was very clear with defense counsel and defendant that there was to be no contact with children,” Wood said. “She knew children were there, and she should have never walked into that house.”
McDonald’s daughter was admitted to the hospital on April 15, 2009, with a high fever and “a long history of chronic diarrhea,” according to an arrest affidavit. Blood tests came back positive for bacteria commonly found in feces.
Hospital officials set up a hidden camera in the girl’s room after she continued to have setbacks in her recovery and after they had to replace her intravenous lines several times because of infections or clots, the affidavit said.
On May 31, hospital staffers reviewed the footage and saw McDonald smearing feces on a cap to the girl’s central venous line, the affidavit said. A central venous line is a catheter, often inserted into a patient’s chest or neck, that leads to a vein or directly into the heart. It allows the quick insertion of medication or fluids and allows monitoring of cardiovascular health.
McDonald told police that she had smeared feces on the line cap five times during her daughter’s six-week hospital stay, the affidavit said.
In May, McDonald’s lawyer, Phillips, said that McDonald’s two youngest children were living with her husband, who is their father, and that the oldest child is living with her own father. McDonald’s lawyers unsuccessfully requested in May that McDonald be allowed supervised visitation with her children, who were 4, 5 and 7 at the time.
He said Friday that he would contest the charges against her.
Emily Beth McDonald, 24, is accused of putting feces on a tube leading into her then--year-old daughter’s bloodstream.