Fighter: 3-year-old smiles through her struggles

September 22, 2018

Caretaker who injured baby sentenced to prison

It’s still a fight every day.

The three and a half year-old little girl can now move her arms and legs and is on a feeding tube. She can see shapes and shadows and can now hold her head up again for a short period of time.

“She has a long way to go,” her mother Lauren Baxter said.

Three years ago McKinlee suffered abuse at the hands of her caretaker, the kind of abuse that could result in a child’s death. Her injuries caused bleeding on her brain and then, police say, her attacker deprived her of food and water and threatened her sisters.

Police reports state the man warned them not to report the injuries and deactivated the wi-fi at the residence so they could not call for medical assistance.

From the beginning, family expected the worst. But then, with the slightest chance and a lot of fight, McKinlee kept on going and started getting better.

“McKinlee continues to fight and amaze everyone,” Floyd County Assistant District Attorney Kayleigh Carter said. “She’s a miracle kid.”

As a prosecutor, Carter said, you don’t always get to see the good things happen — but this was one of those instances where, against all odds, they did.

Three years ago

In December 2016, police charged Christopher David Franklin with attacking McKinlee, causing brain damage as well as other injuries.

Judge Tami Colston sentenced Franklin to 50 years, to serve 30 in prison, on aggravated battery and cruelty to children charges on Friday.

“I’m just thankful that justice was somewhat served,” Baxter said. “McKinlee doesn’t get to do a few years and go home.”

When released Franklin can have no contact with a child under the age of 18 or with the victim or her family.

“I told the judge in court his sentence should be he could not see, he could not walk, he could not crawl and he would have a feeding tube in his stomach like McKinlee,” Linda Langley, McKinlee’s grandmother, said. “That would be justice.”

“My little granddaughter won’t ever be the same because of him,” Langley said.

She said she has appreciated everything law enforcement and prosecutors have done to bring Franklin in and now send him to prison.

“I think children are a gift from God,” District Attorney Leigh Patterson said. “And he abused that gift.”

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