Alleged child abuse may leave infant blind |

Alleged child abuse may leave infant blind

LEADVILLE, Colorado – Lake County social services took a 7-month-old boy away from his parents, and the woman they placed him with is now charged with felony child abuse after allegedly inflicting injuries that may leave the child blind.

A grand jury indicted Shawna Nacke, of Leadville, on two felony counts of child abuse and one misdemeanor count. Nacke turned herself in and is free on $20,000 bond.

The case goes directly to Lake County District Court and Judge Karen Romeo.

Nacke faces up to 32 years in prison. The grand jury indicted her on charges of:

• Class 3 felony child abuse. Knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily to a child.

• Class 4 felony child abuse. Negligently causing serious bodily injury to a child.

• Class 2 misdemeanor child abuse. Negligently causing bodily injury to a child.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert says they don’t know yet whether they’ll go for the maximum sentence.

Nacke makes her first court appearance Nov. 28.

The boy was shaken enough that he suffered “significant” brain swelling and had to have surgery to relieve the pressure, Hurlbert said.

“He’s alive. There’s the potential that he could be blind,” Hurlbert said.

At about 8 a.m. July 15, Leadville police responded to 321 Mount Harvard in Leadville when Nacke called them about an unresponsive baby, according to the arrest affidavit.

When police and paramedics arrived, the baby was taken to Saint Vincent’s hospital, and quickly flown by Flight for Life to Children’s Hospital in Aurora. Firefighters reported the baby was breathing on its own, that its right eye was partially closed and its left eye was open and the pupil was dilated. Its right leg had multiple bruises, Leadville/Lake County fire fighter John Ortiz said in the arrest affidavit.

Nacke agreed to speak to police and told them a toy being dropped on him by his brother caused the child’s bruises, himself a toddler, that the toddler tripped and fell on him, and the leg bruises were caused by a swing.

When the boy woke up that morning, Nacke called 911 when she thought the boy was having a seizure, she told police.

Their father, Donald Nacke, had been to their house the previous night after she had gone to work, so he could put his children to bed.

Social services placed the children with Shawna Nacke and her husband because their mother has substance abuse issues, she told police. The children’s father is Nacke’s husband’s brother.

She told police she would take a polygraph test, the affidavit says.

Dr. Lisa Zwerlinger told police that the child’s mother used alcohol and drugs while she was pregnant, and as a result the child “developmentally challenged.” He’s nine months old and cannot roll over on his own, according to the doctor’s statement in the arrest affidavit.

Dr. Andy Sirotnick, associate professor of pediatrics and a member of the child protection team at Children’s Hospital, testified that the boy’s injuries would not have happened the night before, saying that if the injury had happened the night before the boy would not have survived.

The boy is going to be blind due to being a victim of shaken baby syndrome, and that because Nacke was the only adult at the residence when emergency services were called, “we can conclude that Mrs. Nacke caused the injuries,” according to Sirotnick’s statement in the arrest affidavit.

This was only the second Fifth Judicial District grand jury convened since the 1960s, Hurlbert said.

Judge Romeo convened the 12-person grand jury from around the Fifth Judicial District’s four counties: Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek.

They heard five days of testimony before indicting Nacke on Oct. 5.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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