A Riverton dad accused of abusing his newborn twin daughters has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of child abuse, according to a plea agreement filed late last month.
Anthony Michael Long, 27, was charged in November after hospital personnel at SageWest Health Care in Riverton discovered that his 3-week-old daughters had bruises and fractured bones in multiple places, according to court documents.
Long reportedly told his fiancée during a phone call from jail that the girls “were just so fragile. I was just too aggressive.”
The plea agreement filed in Long’s case doesn’t promise much to him in return. In it, he agrees by his signature to plead guilty to both counts of child abuse, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“The parties have not agreed to a specific sentence,” reads the agreement. “The plea will operate as a ‘cold plea’ and the State and Defendant are free to argue for any sentence they deem appropriate.”
A “cold plea” is a plea given without the promise of a lighter sentence – often regarded as a gamble for grace. In pleading guilty, Long will be required to describe a “factual basis,” or list the actions that would show his guilt for each charge.
By signing the agreement, Long waives his right to contest the charges at a trial and is expected to change his not guilty plea to guilty at a later court hearing.
According to court testimony given at Long’s preliminary hearing in November, the first twin, whose swollen leg had prompted the hospital visit and sparked the investigation had:
• Lacerations and scarring on her nose and ears
• Bruising on her left cheek
• Rib fractures
• A tibia fracture
• A femur fracture
• Bruising on her back
The second twin, whose grandmother brought her to the hospital when hospital staff raised suspicions about the nature of the first twin’s injuries, reportedly had:
• Bruising and lacerations on her nose and ears
• Broken ribs
• A tibia fracture
• A forearm fracture with bruising
• Burst blood vessels in her left eye