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Child abuse trial begins for Bismarck day care provider

BISMARCK — The defense lawyer for a Bismarck day care provider charged with child abuse argued his client was unlikely the one who left scratches on the ears and neck of a boy in her care.

“She chews her nails to the nubs,” Attorney Lloyd Suhr said of Marlene Steedsman, his client.

Steedsman, 55, a former Bismarck home daycare provider, was on trial Wednesday, Jan. 9, in South Central District Court for felony child abuse after allegedly grabbing a 3-year-old boy in her care by the ears.

Lisa Schauer testified she noticed his ear was red, swollen, had lacerations and bruises were forming after picking him up from Steedsman's day care. The boy allegedly told her that Steedsman had tried to “break ears off” for having peed his pants.

Steedsman told Schauer the injury likely occurred when the boy and another 2-year-old she cared for were wrestling. She said she had joked with the boy that they could just rip his ears off and get him new ones.

Steedsman has since dissolved her daycare.

David Mathison, a physician who examined the boy the evening of the incident, said it was unlikely a 2-year-old could have caused the injuries.

The jury has not yet returned a verdict in the case.