Local News

Toddler on Long Road Back After Abuse

Posted April 21, 2008

— An infant severely beaten last fall continues to recover as his parents await a court date for the babysitter accused of abusing the child.

Wyatt Coker was 7 months old in November when he suffered a 3-inch fracture that penetrated his skull, causing a traumatic brain injury. Physicians said someone had beaten the child.

Emilie Coker said she found the baby pale and lifeless when she arrived at the babysitter's house.

"It was hopeless. I'm a nurse," Coker said. "It was like taking somebody and going high speed down the highway and throwing them from the vehicle."

The sitter, Melissa Renee Chavez, has been charged with two federal counts of assault in the case and is expected in court in June. The case is being handled in federal court because the incident occurred on Fort Bragg.

Coker said she and her husband, Pfc. Charles Coker, had put Wyatt in Chavez' care before and were stunned by the allegations against her.

"We were just shocked. There was no way these people could have abused our child," she said.

Defense attorney Gerald Beaver called the case a "terrible tragedy." He said Chavez has four children of her own and that her husband recently came home from rehabilitation after suffering severe injuries in Iraq.

Wyatt was hospitalized for a month, but his mother said he continues to recover as he approaches his first birthday. He undergoes physical therapy regularly and will soon be fitted for leg braces.

Although he might never regain full cognitive skills, his parents said he already has defied the odds by surviving his injuries.

"He's more of a fighter than dad and I," Emilie Coker said. "He is truly a miracle, and for that, we're grateful."


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  • Grumpy-Not Apr 22, 2008

    God bless this baby. I hope that he recovers even more than the dr. gives hope for.

  • Meandmytwo Apr 22, 2008

    I pray that she gets what she deserves and that is much prison time. Praying for the child and the family. God bless.

  • Godschild43 Apr 22, 2008

    My prayers goes out to this child and this chids family.Hope baby sitter children are taken a way from her.

  • Sunkist Apr 22, 2008

    Thank god this baby is ok and I believe he's going to make a full recovery in all areas. But see my story would be alot different, Yes my child would be recovering and so would that babysitter. I need the lord to give me strength if this ever happen to my 16 month old, I wouldn't want to get myself in trouble because my child would need me, but you never know how you are going to react if somebody mess over your child...

  • just my2cents Apr 22, 2008

    Glad the little fella is getting better. He is a beautiful child. I pray that he continues to progress as well as the babysitter's husband who was injured in Iraq. As for the sitter, may she get what she deserves. (I can not say what that is here, I'd get rejected!)

  • b4self Apr 22, 2008

    Hope her own 4 were taken away from her, I understand people get under alot of pressure but no excuse for this.She could have said she wasn't up to baby sitting if that was the case. Some people are just crazy mean,hope she gets jail not probation.Glad baby is doing well.