Carthage father placed on probation in child endangerment case

Mar. 17—A 32-year-old father from Carthage took a plea deal this week on felony child endangerment charges and was assessed a suspended jail term and probation.

James R. O'Connor pleaded guilty Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court to two reduced counts of misdemeanor child endangerment in a plea deal with the prosecutor's office. Judge Joseph Hensley accepted the plea bargain and assessed O'Connor one year in jail with execution of the sentence suspended and the defendant placed on unsupervised probation for two years.

The charges were filed in July of last year when Carthage police responded to a report of two children going door to door with no shoes on and asking for food and water.

After learning where the children resided, police officers found their mother, Elizabeth Baumgartner, also 32, asleep in the home, where toilets were left unflushed, trash was strewn about, and infestations of roaches and bed bugs were evident, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

Both parents were charged with two counts of felony endangerment. The mother's charges were dismissed this week with the father's plea to reduced charges.