Arkansas couple to stand trial in rat-bitten baby case

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MAGNOLIA, Ark. –  A forensic evaluation says a southwest Arkansas couple whose 2-week-old daughter suffered nearly 100 rat bites are fit to stand trial despite their mental illnesses.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that 19-year-old Erica Shryock and 18-year-old Charles Elliott each face charges of permitting abuse of a minor and first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor.

Charles Elliott and Erica Shryock

On May 14, the couple woke up to find their daughter covered in blood with dozens of rat bites on her hands, arms, face and fingers.

There was also a 1-inch wound on their 5-pound daughter’s forehead where her skull was visible, causing her to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery.

The evaluation says the mental illnesses Shryock and Elliott suffer from don’t prevent them from understanding the proceedings or assisting in their own defense. Reports show they reportedly suffered from violent childhoods that included rape and physical abuse.

They were arrested in May and are being held in the Columbia County Jail on $15,000 bail.

A phone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from the couple’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

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