exposing the dark side of adoption
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Couple pleads not guilty to child abuse, get trial date


PROVO -- An Eagle Mountain husband and wife pleaded not guilty Tuesday to abusing three children in their care.

Leslie Erickson, 49, is charged with five counts of child abuse, while her husband, Gary Erickson, 60, faces three counts of child abuse. All the charges are second degree felonies and carry a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison. During Tuesday's hearing Judge Steven Hansen scheduled a three-week trial for the couple beginning in August.

The couple's charges stem from allegations that Leslie abused three of her adopted children. According to the Utah County Sheriff's Office, the couple took their 5-year-old daughter to a fire station in March 2010, saying she had fallen and hit her head. The girl's condition quickly deteriorated and she was flown by a medical helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center, where doctors cut away nearly half her skull to relieve pressure on her brain.

While Leslie Erickson reportedly claimed the girl tripped on a rug and hit her head on the bathroom floor, doctors told investigators the girl's injuries were caused by a force equal to an unrestrained child hitting her head on a windshield in a car accident. She also allegedly had injuries consistent with strangulation and injuries in various stages of healing from "head to toe."

According to police, both Erickson and her husband withheld information or gave false statements to doctors when asked how long the girl was without oxygen.

But attorney Michael Langford said Tuesday that Erickson was pleased to be moving forward with the case.

"She's looking forward to getting her day in court," Langford said. "She's a wonderful mother."

Langford explained that the trial would require three weeks due to the number of witnesses who will be called to testify.

2011 Mar 22