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‘The child can’t walk, can’t talk and can’t interact with the world in any meaningful way’: Mom sentenced over permanent injuries inflicted on 6-year-old for ‘being naughty’

Garland Malcolm appears in a mug shot

Garland Malcolm appears in a mug shot. (Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office)

“The child can’t walk, can’t talk and can’t interact with the world in any meaningful way,” so goes the end result of vicious, long-term child abuse meted out to a 6-year-old boy by his adoptive Colorado mother.

In July, Garland Malcolm was convicted by a Montezuma County jury on one count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Jurors took three hours to weigh the evidence and return a guilty verdict.

This week, she was sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law for that crime: 32 years in state prison.

“Today, the child injured in this incident received some small amount of justice,” 22nd District Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Reed said in comments reported by The Journal. “[He] will never recover from his injuries, and will never regain the life he had.”

The condemned woman and her husband, Roy Malcolm, adopted the victim and his siblings in October 2020, the paper reported.

The couple also have one biological child.

When later interviewed by law enforcement, the children would describe the various punishments they received for “being naughty,” such as having to run laps around the house and/or the family’s horse pasture, getting spanked with a hairbrush, and being struck in the faces by their mother until their noses bled.

For the 6-year-old, however, those punishments slowly built up to something else entirely – something sadly irreversible.

Malcolm brought her child to Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez. There, doctors had to intubate the child because they found a massive brain bleed known as a “large subdural hematoma.” Staff described the severity of the bleed as akin to an injury suffered by someone thrown from a horse or ejected out of an automobile.

Malcolm initially said she found the boy unconscious in the kitchen. That story quickly changed, however, telling nurses that he was “running around screaming throughout the house” and had injured himself, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Journal.

The boy was also found to have suffered from tears and hemorrhages in both eyes that were likely to result in blindness, a skull fracture, torn ligaments in his neck, and bruises on his lower body.

Then, he was flown to Colorado Springs’ Children’s Hospital for treatment.

On Jan. 6, 2022, the investigation began.

Medical experts at the children’s hospital said the boy could not have possibly injured himself in such a manner in talks with law enforcement, describing his injuries as “diagnostic of child physical abuse and abusive head trauma,” according to the affidavit.

The three other children in the house also described additional horrors, including being belted to their beds overnight so they couldn’t eat food without permission and being hit with a belt. One child said they were also forced to do squats or jumps as punishment.

On Feb. 3, 2022, the Montezuma County Department of Social Services reported the 6-year-old was “in a persistent vegetative state with a feeding tube for eating, a trachea tube for breathing, and a shunt in his brain to help drain the fluid.”

The permanently disabled child now eats his meals through a tube and is not expected to ever get much better, Reed told the paper.

The other three children were removed from the care of the Malcolms and placed with a family that authorities have decided to keep anonymous. They are said to be doing much better now.

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