Carlsbad authorities have filed charges against Courtney Hutchins, who has been previous identified as 21-year-old Courtney Kennedy, for child abuse and endangerment. The criminal complaint cites Courtney responsible for putting her 3-year-old son Ethan in direct danger, which resulted in a vicious mauling by a wild animal. She was arrested Tuesday and will be tried in Magistrate Court.
Reports state Courtney and her brother LeeVon took her son Ethan to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park on March 18, whereupon the child was seriously injured when he got too close to the bobcat enclosure.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park, formerly the Living Desert Zoological and Botanical State Park, is a zoo and botanical garden displaying plants and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert in their native habitats. It is located off US Route 285 at the north edge of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Witnesses state they observed Courtney and LeeVon cross the protective barrier surrounding the animal enclosure and were coaxing the bobcat closer, in spite of the several warning signs forbidding patrons from crossing the bars, according to the Current-Argus.
The bobcat exhibit is separated from the public by a 40-inch high 28-inch wide set of rails and an inner fence. The rails and the inner fence are separated by a cactus-filled gap measuring nearly two-feet.
One witness, Heather Rosier, told authorities Ethan was placed next to the interior fence and the bobcat snatched at the child, scratching him. Spencer Rosier, the other reported witness, called 911.
Emergency services took Ethan to Carlsbad Medical Center. As a result of the bobcat mauling, Ethan’s head laceration along the left side of his skull required eight staples.
Courtney told police the child was just taken from her arms by one of the bobcats, but couldn’t recall the specific details surrounding the incident. It was obvious based on the witness reports and the distances between the external and interior barriers, the adult siblings had intentionally disregarded posted warnings and ventured into an unsafe distance of the exhibit.
On April 5, Courtney was subjected to follow-up questioning. She told Carlsbad Police Detective Tonia Tiller they’d not seen the warning signs outside of the bobcat enclosure.
Authorities felt enough probable cause had been established to support an arrest and took Courtney into custody on April 9. This is the young mother’s first criminal offense. Therefore, she was released on a $5,000 bond. Courtney is scheduled for a preliminary examination by Judge Henry Castaneda on May 22.
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