Parents accused of tearing baby's nostril, fracturing ribs

PAMLICO COUNTY - A Pamlico County mother and father are accused of seriously injuring their 4-month-old baby, including tearing the infant's nostril and fracturing her ribs.

Heather Koontz Bennett, 27, and Thomas Lee Batts, 25, both of Bayboro, appeared in court Friday morning. They are each charged with two felony counts of child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury.

According to warrants from the Pamlico County Sheriff's Office, Bennett and Batts grabbed and tore the nostril of their 4-month-old baby. The suspects are also accused of fracturing their baby's ribs, an injury that went untreated for two weeks, said Pamlico County Sheriff Billy Sawyer Jr. The warrants state the injuries happened some time between Jan. 1 and March 6.

The infant is now in protective custody.

Bennett and Batts are each being held under a $250,000 bond.

Sheriff Sawyer said Bennett was previously charged in 2009 with felony child abuse in Harnett County, where the suspects used to live.

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