Mother pleads not guilty to beating 17-month-old daughter

Published 10:44 am Friday, October 28, 2011

An Austin woman pleaded not guilty Thursday to allegedly causing life-threatening injuries to her now 19-month-old daughter.


Heang Kim Sean, 21, pleaded not guilty in Mower County District Court to two felonies — first- and third-degree assault, for two separate incidents since May.

Court documents allege that Sean caused injuries to her daughter that included liver lacerations, bruising of the intestinal wall and spleen, pancreas damage and blood in the abdomen.

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In court Thursday, District Judge Fred Wellmann lowered Sean’s conditional bail from $100,000 to $50,000. Sean’s attorney, Dan Donnelly, asked for bail to be lowered to $20,000 so Sean’s family can afford to bail her out.

Sean’s mother attended Thursday’s hearing and kept mouthing words to Sean, who was seated across the courtroom with other inmates. She also moved from where she was sitting to different rows in the courtroom’s public seating area until the bailiff told her she had to stop talking and switching seats or she would be kicked out.

Sean has yet to be scheduled for her next court appearance.

Sean’s 19-month-old daughter was in the hospital from Aug. 12 to Oct. 3, according to a court complaint. In that time, she had a blood transfusion and surgery to remove a section of her small intestine.

Sean told police something must have happened at daycare. However, she said the toddler “was great” and able to eat and play when she picked her up from child care just after midnight on Aug. 12, hours before she was taken to St. Marys Hospital.

The morning Sean took her daughter to the hospital, she said the child looked “pale, white, not normal and weak” when she checked on her, court documents stated.


A doctor at the hospital told officers it was highly unlikely the toddler would have been able to eat, drink or play with such severe injuries. The doctor said the injury could not have occurred without someone realizing the child was hurt, as she would have been in obvious pain, according to court documents.

“The medical records revealed the injuries received by the child would have taken extreme force, such as an automobile accident or a very hard blow to the abdomen by an adult,” the complaint stated.

The court complaint said the doctor thinks it is a “strong possibility” the injury took place between 12:40 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Aug. 12 — from when Sean picked the child up from daycare to the time the child was put to bed.

Sean faces the termination of her parental rights for failing to protect her daughter, according to a family court petition. Mower County Human Services also petitioned for child protective services for Sean’s son, who was born in early October. Both children are in the custody of MCHS at undisclosed foster homes, according to the petition.

Sean’s third-degree assault charge stems from multiple fractures found on her daughter in May. According to a family court petition, Sean told St. Marys Hospital staff the toddler had fallen from her bed onto the floor. However, Sean told a Mower County Sheriff’s deputy she may have been hurt at daycare by the dog or by an aggressive 2-year-old.

Deputies went to Sean’s home to view the bed from which the child allegedly fell. According to the petition, the “bed is a mattress placed directly on a carpeted floor. Mattress is reported to be eight to 10 inches off the carpeted floor.”

Later, Sean told the deputy the fractures occurred when she was playing with the child.

“The defendant stated that the child was trying to stand and she would push the child down and the child got ‘caught in the bed sheet,’” according to the complaint.

Court documents report St. Marys Hospital staff was concerned in May and August about Sean’s accounts of the toddler’s injuries.