Toddler brain-dead; Mankato mother charged with felony assault

Toddler brain-dead; Mankato mother charged with felony assault

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A Mankato woman has been charged with felony assault for the alleged abuse of her child.

A 16-month-old child is on life support following an alleged child abuse incident and the toddler’s mother, 27-year-old Chelsea Olinger, is charged with first-degree felony assault.

“We’re at a point in the investigation where we have probable cause to believe that Ms. Olinger was responsible for the injuries to the child, and so we made an arrest at that point, but we still have a lot of work to do,” says Department of Public Safety Assistant Director Matt DuRose.

The child was brought to Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato by Olinger the morning of Feb. 10 where an emergency procedure was conducted to relieve bleeding on the child's brain.

A court complaint says the toddler was then transferred to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Rochester where it was discovered the child has no brain activity.

“This is a difficult situation when you make an arrest of a parent for harm that they have done to their child, but we have to make sure we’re speaking on behalf of that child who cannot speak on their own behalf. We want to make sure we’re thorough and that we do the best investigation that we possibly can to make sure that there is the best outcome possible,” says DuRose.

The court complaint states that Olinger told investigators that the child fell down a flight of stairs at their Eastport Apartments residence.

Chelsea Olinger is charged with first-degree felony assault for the alleged abuse of her 16-month-old child
Chelsea Olinger is charged with first-degree felony assault for the alleged abuse of her 16-month-old child (Source: Gage Cureton)

The complaint also says a doctor with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester told police that the child's injuries are consistent with "non-accidental trauma."

Olinger later told investigators that she awoke to the child crying Monday morning and she then grabbed the child's body and tried to put them down four or five times.

She then stated she was sure the toddler's head had hit the crib.

The complaint states that Olinger was frustrated the child would not go to bed and then covered the child's mouth with her hand while lying in bed.

Later, she awoke to find the toddler at the bottom of the stairs.

We spoke to an attorney who is not affiliated with the case about what will happen next going forward.

“Well in any criminal case when you have to make the charging decision you look at the facts you have as they are presented to you at that particular time, and then as circumstances change or condition of the victim changes, then you would look at amending the charges to reflect both the condition of the victim as well as what the investigation has revealed,” says Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer.

Police say they can't comment on the current condition of the child as they remain on life support, or who has the immediate decision over the child's condition.

“There are things being worked out that are being worked out through the courts and the medical treatment staff to make that decision. That will not come through us and Ms. Olinger will not be responsible for that either,” says DuRose.

Mankato Public Safety is being assisted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the investigation.

Olinger appeared in Blue Earth County Court today for a bail hearing and her bail is set at $500,000 with conditions and $1 million without.

Olinger’s next appearance in court is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

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