Mercer County Courthouse

The Mercer County Courthouse is seen in Princeton in this file photo.

PRINCETON — Child abuse resulting in serious injury was among the indictments handed down this week by the June 2021 Mercer County Grand Jury.

Dakota Steele, 19, of Athens was arrested Sept. 21, 2020 after his then 6-month-old son was found unresponsive on Sept. 11 that same year and taken to Princeton Community Hospital, according to Detective-Sergeant S.A. Sommers with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

Sommers said in his criminal complaint that he consulted the child’s medical provider and was told that he was “in a serious medical condition and has sustained neurological injury due to non-accidental trauma.”

The child was transferred by helicopter to the Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment.

Carla Bragg with Child Protective Services and Sommers interviewed the parents on Sept. 15, 2020, according to the criminal complaint. From a timeline detailing the child’s condition, Dakota Steele was the only person with him “approximately 45 minutes prior to being taken to the hospital,” according to the criminal complaint.

Steele told investigators that he found his son unresponsive, but failed to act, Sommers stated in the report. It was not until about 45 minutes later that the mother found the child “in an unresponsive state” and had him transported to the hospital.

The grand jury indicted Steele of a charge of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. In West Virginia, child abuse resulting in serious injury is a felony carrying a possible term of two to 10 years in prison.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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