A Sallisaw couple was charged April 8 with child abuse involving their four-week-old son.
Jessie L. “Cate” Hopkins, 22, and Dakota Hopkins, 21, face up to life in prison in the Department of Corrections or imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year, as well as a fine up to $5,000 on the charges. Bond for the pair was set at $15,000 each.
On July 18, a Tulsa police officer reported a possible child abuse victim that had been brought to St. Francis Hospital for evaluation.
According to the report, the officer made contact with the Hopkinses and their infant son. The officer stated that while speaking with the parents he noticed two small bruises on the baby’s left cheek that appeared to be bite marks.
The couple reported that they had been at a friend’s house the night before and that the friend’s 14-month-old child was “fascinated” with the infant’s bassinet and “kept climbing in it to play.”
The Hopkinses claimed that later in the evening, the two children were taking a nap in a different room when they heard the four-week-old cry out. The couple said the toddler was in the bassinet with the baby when they entered the room. The two refused to identify the friend or say exactly where they were that night.
Hospital records from July showed that the infant had an “abnormal bruising pattern and suspicious story” concerning his bruises. The Hopkinses refused to provide the hospital staff with a current home address. The notes in the case indicated that the couple was homeless, but the two also said they were moving.
On July 19, an anonymous tip advised police where the Hopkinses had spent the night. A woman at the residence told officers that on July 14, she and her husband went to the Hopkins home to help them move some wood. During that visit, the woman said, Jessie Hopkins told her they had begun giving the baby rice in his bottle and administering Ibuprofen to him to make him sleep. Jessie Hopkins also told the woman they had given the baby “tastes of adult foods” such as potatoes and potato salad.
The home the Hopkinses were staying at was filled with black mold, the woman said, and they didn’t want the baby living in those conditions, so they asked the couple to stay with them for a few days.
The woman and her husband told police they felt the couple was “too rough” with their infant and had noticed bruising before. The husband also told police he believed the Hopkinses didn’t feed the baby enough. “He acts like he is still hungry but they refuse to feed him more,” the man said.
On July 22, Dakota Hopkins was interviewed by police. He said the baby’s injuries were their fault. He told the officer that two weeks prior, Jessie Hopkins was feeding the baby when he began choking. Dakota Hopkins said he “grabbed” the baby “by his legs and turned him upside-down to get him to stop choking.” Hopkins said he believed that is what caused the injury to the boy’s left leg. He said he thought the injury to the baby’s right leg was from “changing his diaper and by holding his ankles too tight.”
Hopkins further stated that he believed the baby’s ribs were injured when the boy stopped breathing for more than a minute. He said he performed CPR on the infant. In addition, Hopkins said that the baby may have been hurt by the way the couple burped him, saying they held his face too tight and patted his back too hard.
Dakota Hopkins admitted to lying to police but said he was scared and didn’t know what else to do. Jessie Hopkins told police a similar story.
Hospital records confirm fractures of the baby’s left femur, right tibia and right fibula and facial bruising.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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