in the Court of Appeals 17 April 2017.
by respondent-mother from orders entered 8 August 2016 and 6
September 2016 by Judge J.H. Corpening, II in New Hanover
County District Court No. 15 JA 248
Floyd-Davis for petitioner-appellee New Hanover County
Department of Social Services.
H. Mobley for guardian ad litem.
Richard Croutharmel for respondent-appellant mother.
appeals from a consent order adjudicating her son
"Jonah" an abused and neglected juvenile, together
with the resulting dispositional order that maintained the
child in the custody of New Hanover Department of Social
Services ("DSS") and directed DSS to cease efforts
toward reunification. Respondent-father has withdrawn his
appeal by filing notice in the trial court pursuant to N.C.
R. App. P. 37(e).
September 2015, DSS filed a juvenile petition claiming that
seven-month-old Jonah was abused and neglected. The petition
alleged that respondents brought Jonah to the hospital for
"leg and arm spasms . . . similar to seizures." The
spasms had been occurring for a period of two to three weeks.
An initial examination revealed that Jonah had experienced
two "brain bleeds, one appearing old in nature, the
other appearing of a more recent nature." X-rays also
showed a possible skull fracture. Jonah was transferred to
UNC-Chapel Hill Medical Center, where doctors found injuries
significant high impact trauma to the head. There is an old
injury to the right side of the head manifested by the
appearance of old blood and dead tissue with shrinkage of the
brain noted. This is demonstrative of an injury which
occurred weeks to months earlier. There is a very large
amount of fluid on the brain, representative of an injury
which occurred days to weeks earlier. The MRI revealed
evidence of possible shearing injuries.
A doctor described Jonah's injuries to DSS as "very
significant for non-accidental trauma." According to the
petition, respondents were unable to account for "the
severity of the injuries that [Jonah] has sustained."
They cited several instances of Jonah falling from his bed,
changing table, or stroller, as well as one occasion when a
recoiling screen door had struck the child in the head.
respondents were charged with felonious child abuse. In July
2016, respondent-mother pleaded guilty to child abuse by
grossly negligent omission resulting in serious bodily injury
to the child. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-318.4(a4) (2015). She
was sentenced to an active prison term of twenty-five to
August 2016, respondents appeared in court and tendered a
"Consent Order on Adjudication" signed by all
parties and their counsel. The order provides that the parties
"have stipulated and agreed to the entry of this Order
which provides for the following facts, conclusions of law
and order" adjudicating Jonah as neglected and abused.
Among the parties' stipulated facts are the following:
4. [Jonah] is a neglected and abused juvenile in that a
parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker has inflicted or
allowed to be inflicted a serious physical injury by other
than accidental means, in that on or about September 22,
2015, [Jonah] was diagnosed with a possible skull fracture
and two brain bleeds and ...