By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A South Plains man with a history of child abuse is finally sitting behind bars after pleading guilty Monday to a first degree felony of injury to a child. Michael Schneider, 22, will face 40 years in prison.
The Searles family can now have closure, what little is left to be had. "What goes through my mind is that he's off the street. He's not able to hurt another child and although I wish nobody harm, in prison is the best place for this person," said Bill Searles, paternal grandfather of the abused child.
The person Searles is talking about is Michael Schneider who first brutally beat toddler Alexander Searles in October of 2006, hospitalizing the 2 and 1/2 year old boy. Schneider broke nine of his ribs, both arms, and gave the toddler cigarette burns on his feet and back.
Now 5-years old, Alex was adopted by his grandfather Bill Searles and lives in Florida. "Alex today, this is now almost 3 years later, goes to 7 therapies a week. He took away his childhood. Every day he has a therapy. Every day he goes through the drill. Every day he has home sessions of trying to recover what he once had," said Searles.
Schneider got 40 years in prison, but Alex will suffer from traumatic brain damage and physical handicaps his entire life. "I see more pain in what he's enduring and what he will remain to endure for probably the rest of his life. I don't know how to categorize that when you take that away from a baby. I don't know how to put that into words," said Searles.
Although it took almost three years to put Schneider behind bars, Searles says justice has finally been served. "I think the system in the end works, and this system comes in and you get the right guy on the job and he does what needs to be done, unfortunately not before another child's hurt," said Searles.
That child was a six month old Lubbock infant that Schneider sent to intensive care back in March, while he was out on bond for abusing Alex. Schneider still faces those child abuse charges here in the hub city.
Alex is continuing to show progress and Searles wants to thank all those who gave support while Alex was in the hospital. "The support of the local community that during that time we were in Lubbock, not knowing if Alex was going to live or die, I can't ever tell all those people thank you, because they did make a difference," said Searles.
Alex's mother is also in prison. Kelly Searles pleaded guilty a while back and is serving 15 years in prison. She'll be eligible for parole in May 2011.
Schneider still faces child abuse charges in Lubbock for putting the six month old baby in intensive care.
©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.