A Pennsylvania couple was sentenced to 10 to 21 years each for abusing their infant twin daughters in what the judge described as “one of the most horrific examples of child abuse that I’ve ever seen,” reports Fox43.
Melissa Shales, 26, inflicted injuries that gave the girls multiple broken bones before they were two months old. The girls, now 17 months old and beginning to walk, still need therapy, Fox43 reports.
Her husband, Michael Shales, 31, did not seek medical attention for his daughters after witnessing the abuse at the hands of his wife. Additionally, Michael Shales, while high on heroin, tore the throat of one of the girls with a pair of pliers while trying to remove a piece of gauze, reports the Bucks County Courier Times.
The girl has been on a feeding tube since the injury, the paper reports.
“Their two months of life with their parents was torture,” Deputy District Attorney Chelsey D. Jackman said, according to Fox43. “Nothing short of torture.”
On May 22, the couple pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children, according to a press release from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
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Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Raymond F. McHugh sentenced each to serve seven to 14 years for the assault charges, plus a consecutive three to seven years for child endangerment.
According to ABC6, on March 21, 2016, the day Michael Shales used the pliers on his daughter’s throat, police arrived at their apartment after someone called 911 saying one baby was having problems breathing. Police found the infant pale and gurgling, and both were injured and malnourished, according to the Bucks County Courier Times.
Chelsea Jackman, Deputy District Attorney, told Fox43 the apartment was filled with garbage, dirty dishes, drug paraphernalia, and unspent bullets left within reach of the 2-year-old brother of the twins.
Earlier that day, Michael Shales bought $120 worth of heroin, and arrived back home to an enraged Melissa, who threw the baby into the aluminum rails of their daybed, Levittownnow.com reports.
Michael then injected the heroin into himself, tried wiping the mouth of the infant with a piece of gauze, and then attempted to pluck it out of the infant’s throat after the gauze got stuck. Police were not summoned until 10 o’clock that evening, Fox43 reported.
The same daughter with the throat injury also was found to have a fractured femur, rib and tibia, Fox43 reported. She also had sustained other neck injuries and cuts and bruises to her genitals.
Her leg injuries occurred during a bath a week earlier. Melissa attempted to pop the baby’s leg back in place, and by the time police arrived a week later, her leg was extremely swollen, reports Fox43. The other twin sister was found to have two fractures on her leg.
Each child had only gained two pounds during their first month of life, Jackman told the station.
In a police statement, Melissa said she injured the babies “to get back at Michael, to show him how mad he makes her,” Fox43 reported. Melissa blamed her behavior on her use of methamphetamine, while Michael has been an opioid addict since he was 17, authorities said.
Information about the attorneys for both Michael and Melissa Shales was not immediately available, and it was unclear if they planned to appeal.