Two on trial for felony child abuse in Sheridan County

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — There is a jury trial happening this week in the Fourth Judicial District Court regarding felony child abuse charges against Michael A. Tibbets and Donna Gifford, both of Sheridan County. The State of Wyoming alleges that between July 2004 and October 2012, Tibbets and Gifford intentionally or recklessly inflicted child abuse and mental injury upon three children in their care under the age of 18. According to court documents, the Sheridan Police Department began an investigation regarding children who were subject to severe emotional neglect and placed into foster care in May of 2014. Incidents of abuse included feeding an infant under six months of age "joy juice," a mixture of whipped cream and molasses, instead of formula, even when the child was in critical medical condition; children reporting the discovery of stars because they had been kept inside at all times; and hypersensitive children without an understanding of right and wrong, social engagement or even how to eat with silverware. The children had been placed into protective custody in October of 2012. A local elementary school principal was interviewed in the course of the investigation, and he said the children showed significant signs of abuse, including soiled clothing and animalistic behavior. A local pediatrician was also interviewed, and verified signs of significant abuse. The pediatrician said she saw drastic changes in the children when they were placed in foster care in 2012, and even said they would "beam with pride" at their current situation, according to court documents. Both subjects have pleaded not guilty. The trial is on the District Court schedule for the entire week. Child abuse is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine of $10,000. *Feature photo h/t / Pitchengine Communities* #dally #news