Two Teens enter Guilty Pleas for Child Abuse Charges

Two Teens enter Guilty Pleas for Child Abuse Charges

KNOX COUNTY — Two Knox County teens pleaded guilty in Knox Circuit Court on Friday to charges of first-degree child abuse after their 1-year-old child suffered severe head injuries. Dakota Kissinger, 19, and Rebecca Asher, 19, both of Barbourville, were charged last year after police say the two caused serious injury on their child after Kissinger reportedly shook the baby and its bed, causing it to fall and strike his knee.

child abuse

On August 14, 2020 Knox County Deputy Bobby Jones was dispatched to Barbourville ARH after receiving word from emergency room staff that a 1-year-old child had suffered severe head trauma and a fracture skull. The child, who is now 2 years old, was later transported to UK Medical Center for further treatment and evaluation that revealed additional serious physical injuries to the body had also occurred.

After conducting an initial investigation, Jones arrested the father, Kissinger, age 18 at the time, charging him with first-degree criminal abuse of a child 12 or under.

Nearly one month later, after continuing the investigation, Jones arrested the child’s mother, Asher, who was charged with first-degree criminal abuse of a child 12 or under and first-degree assault. Both appeared in court on Friday where the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office recommended that Asher serve five years on the count of criminal abuse while count two of the indictment was dismissed, while it was recommended that Kissinger serve 10 years with count one being dismissed. Both Asher and Kissinger are scheduled to return for a sentencing hearing on August 27 at 1 p.m. Asher has since been released on bail while Kissinger remains lodged in the Knox County Detention Center.

In other Knox Circuit Court hearings:

-Michael Scott Nason, 37, who was one of three involved in the kidnapping of a 16-year-old, was sentenced to serve five years in prison and register as a lifetime sex offender on charges of third-degree rape and first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor. According to the indictment, a 16-year-old victim was lured from her residence under false pretenses. The victim, who was 16 at the time of the incident, went missing. After an investigation by law enforcement officials, the victim was placed into the National Crime Information Center database for missing persons.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Department was soon notified by the Cincinnati (Ohio) Police Department that the teenager had been found in the back of a U-Haul truck in a parking lot in Cincinnati, Ohio. Deputies traveled to Cincinnati to pick up the victim, and after interviewing her, were able to determine that she had been taken by Nason and two others. The teenager was then allegedly locked in the back of the U-Haul with Nason, where they reportedly engaged in sexual activity. The truck was then taken to the parking lot in Cincinnati where police had found her.

On Friday, Nason was recommended to serve five years in prison on each count, but the two sentences will run concurrently, or at the same time, giving him a total of five years. Nason will be subjected to a sex offender evaluation and must register as a lifetime offender.

-Ricky Allen Vaughn, 30, of London, will serve 12 and a half years after firing a shot towards someone after getting into a wreck. Vaughn was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment and one count of first-degree persistent felony offender for his involvement in an incident on Aug. 13. Vaughn was also indicted on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and one count of second-degree persistent felony offender in a separate case, but still related to the same incident in August.

According to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, on Aug. 13 Knox County deputies received a call from an individual who informed them they had been in a near wreck with Vaughn while traveling on Moore Hill Avenue. The person also told police that when he stopped his vehicle to check that nobody else had wrecked, Vaughn exited his silver colored 2010 Cadillac, began cussing at the victim, and fired one shot towards his direction. The Sheriff’s office reports that the bullet struck the back bumper of the victim’s vehicle, in which his brother-in-law and 4-year-old son were sitting in.

Vaughn’s vehicle was eventually spotted by KSP Trooper Sammy Farris on US 25E North in the parking lot of Speedy Mart. Trooper Farris performed a search of Vaughn’s Cadillac and located a pistol and a .223 caliber AR-15. With counts one and two dismissed, Vaughn was recommended to serve five years on count five, which was enhanced due to being a persistent felony offender to 12 and a half years and 10 years on count two, which was enhanced to 12 and a half years. The two sentences will run concurrently, or at the same time, giving him a total of 12 and a half years.

Emily Adams-Bentley