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Baby on life support, Mankato mother charged with felony assault

The 16-month-old suffered grave injuries that have been deemed non-accidental.

The mother is in custody facing a felony assault charge while her baby is hospitalized and on life support with no brain activity, according to charging documents filed in Blue Earth County District Court. 

Chelsea Rae Olinger, 27, of Mankato, has been charged with first-degree assault causing great bodily harm, with the victim being her 16-month-old child. 

According to a criminal complaint, a hospital employee called Mankato police just after 7 a.m. Monday, reporting suspicious circumstances after Olinger arrived at the hospital saying her baby was injured in a fall down a flight of stairs. 

Upon arrival at the hospital, the 16-month-old was not breathing, had no heart rate and twice needed CPR to combat cardiopulmonary arrest. The baby also suffered a brain bleed and had compression fractures of two vertebrae, seven broken ribs and a lacerated liver. 

The child was transported from Mankato to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where a doctor with expertise in treating children that are victims of physical abuse determined that the baby's injuries were not consistent with falling down stairs. 

Olinger claimed she heard crying at 4 a.m. that Monday, so she got her baby from its crib and brought it to bed with her. At 6:30 a.m., Olinger said she woke to more crying but the child wasn't in the bed, but was at the bottom of the stairs. She said her child became unresponsive as soon as she picked it up. 

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In a follow-up interview with police at Mayo Clinic, Olinger again said the baby woke at 4 a.m. but added that she tried to put the baby in its crib four or five times, and on the final try the baby hit its head on the crib. 

She admitted becoming frustrated and also confessed to covering the baby's mouth to stop the crying while the baby was in bed with her. 

Medical experts ruled that the baby's injuries were from non-accidental trauma. 

Olinger faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine if convicted. 

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