An Anaconda man accused of breaking and displacing his 4-month-old daughter’s ribs in Butte in late 2015 pleaded guilty to felony criminal endangerment Wednesday as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
They initially charged 30-year-old David James Cuchine with assaulting a minor and the case was set to go to trial later this month. That charge carries a maximum 20 years in prison.
Cuchine admitted Wednesday to endangering his child and District Judge Robert Whelan set sentencing for Oct. 23. Cuchine now faces a maximum 10 years in prison and fine up to $50,000.
Prosecutor Samm Cox said the case has been pending for a long time, Cuchine still faces a serious sentence and the agreement gives the family some closure. As part of the deal, Cuchine’s parental rights are ended and he can’t have contact with the child, Cox said.
According to prosecutors, staff at St. James Healthcare notified police after Cuchine brought his infant daughter to the emergency room on Dec. 31, 2015, saying she was “very colicky.” A person with Cuchine said the child’s bones cracked when she was picked up.
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Doctors said the girl had broken and displaced ribs. A physician later concluded that the rib fractures were highly indicative of a pattern of potentially life-threatening abuse.
Several people, including grandparents, had looked after the child that fall and early winter, but police said she was only in Cuchine’s care when the injuries occurred.
Cuchine could not explain how the girl had been injured but said he did slip on a porch while holding her and may have squeezed her pretty hard, according to the charging document.
Cuchine is free on bond pending sentencing.