Published February 28, 2013
TULSA, Okla. – A judge on Thursday ordered a Tulsa man accused of locking his toddler in a metal cage to jail, revoking his probation for a previous drug conviction.
District Judge James Caputo said the child neglect allegation the man faces is a violation of his probation terms and revoked a two-year suspended sentence. The father was arrested in November on the felony neglect charge.
The Associated Press is not naming the father to protect the child's identity. He's pleaded not guilty, and court records show he has an arraignment scheduled for March 11. The man's wife also faces the same charge of child neglect and is due for arraignment in March, according to court records.
The father received a two-year suspended sentence in August after pleading no contest to possessing a precursor to manufacture methamphetamine. Authorities say about three months later, in November, police found the man's 22-year-old daughter locked in the animal crate, a 3-year-old child wandering around naked outside and another 3-year-old naked and unsupervised. Court records indicate the man was responsible for caring for all three children and that he was passed out inside the house.
A concerned neighbor called police after finding one of the children outside and getting no response when he knocked on the door as temperatures dropped into the low 40s.
Police officers knocked and also got no response. One of the officers peered inside a window and saw the girl in the dog cage. Police then kicked the door in. The children were immediately placed in protective custody.
The father later told police he had taken the powerful narcotic painkiller Oxycontin, the muscle relaxer Flexeril, the anti-seizure medication Dilantin and drank a 16-oz. Busch beer, according to court records.
At a hearing Thursday, the man's defense attorney, Adam Haselgren, told the court his client had taken prescription medications and had passed out, but Haselgren said it was possible one of the children could have locked the girl in the dog crate while they were playing and then wandered outside.
"This is something that could happen to any parent or any baby sitter," he argued.
But Caputo noted that police had to kick in the door to the house because it had been locked from the inside and doubted any of the children could have done that.
"Is a 3-year-old carrying a set of keys?" Caputo asked before ruling that the state had proven there was enough evidence to revoke the father's prior deferred sentence.
Assistant District Attorney Travis Horton said outside the courtroom the state was pleased with the ruling.