Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


September 29, 2011

Tressler pleads guilty to neglect

Greensburg — In Decatur County Circuit Court Wednesday, Courtney G. Tressler, 26, pled guilty to amended charges in the death of her son, Payton Wesley Ettinger.

Tressler was originally charged in August 2010 after Ettinger passed away May 17, 2010. The charging information had included two separate counts; one for C Felony reckless homicide and another for A Felony neglect of a dependent. These two charges were amended into a single B Felony charge of neglect of a dependent Wednesday.

The amended charging information alleges that Tressler "failed to obtain medical treatment for the diarrhea of Payton Wesley Ettinger and failed to obtain medical examination of the child's condition, and such neglect resulted in the child's malnutrition and extreme dehydration, serious bodily injuries that create substantial risk of death."

Decatur County Circuit Court Judge John Westhafer informed Tressler that the Class B Felony carries an advisory sentence of 10 years with the court holding the power to determine how much of this time is spent incarcerated and how much in probation. The total sentence could vary, he said, from six to 20 years.

He explained that by pleading guilty, Tressler would wave her right to a jury trial in which she could offer witnesses in her defense and face her accusers, among other rights. He explained that she could, however, still appeal her sentencing.

Tressler was then sworn in and stated her name for the record. With the guidance of her attorney, Eugene Hollander, she explained that she is the mother of Payton Wesley Ettinger, who was born in Traverse City, Mich. At two months of age, she said, he was declared an abused child, but she said his abuse began at about 2 weeks of age at the hand of his biological father, Martin Wesley Ettinger, who is now incarcerated in Michigan for the crime. This abuse left Ettinger completely dependent, she said. He would involuntarily roll over but was unable to focus his eyes on people or objects, nor could he reach for things. He could not speak or sit up, she said.

When Ettinger was about one year old, they moved to Greensburg. She stated that she never failed to feed her child, but as he got older, it became more difficult. Thin liquids could no longer be given to him without simply pouring back out of his mouth. Food needed to be in paste form, she said. Problems with feeding him continued when she noticed that very shortly after each feeding, everything had already passed through his digestive system.

Tressler said that she changed what she was feeding him and began giving him Ensure because it contained all the vitamins and minerals he needed. Even after making this change, the digestive problems continued, but she never took him to the doctor, she said.

As is required in felony cases, a presentence investigation was ordered by Westhafer. He will review the evidence and make a determination on the plea agreement. He will also adress the issue of sentencing. Both of these will be addressed at sentencing Nov. 4. If he rejects the agreement, the process will move forward once more toward a trial.

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