TEXARKANA, Texas — A woman who pepper sprayed a group of people sitting in a car, including her own 1-year-old son, pleaded guilty to felony injury to a child Monday at a hearing in Bowie County.
Branda Danielle Hope, 33, walked up to the parked Chevrolet Tahoe where the father of her child was sitting with his wife and with the 1-year-old in a car seat in the back Sept. 15, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Hope allegedly doused the couple with pepper spray before attempting to get in the back seat and take the child, the affidavit states.
Despite the effects of the pepper spray, the father and his wife were able to prevent Hope from taking the baby as she demanded they give her the child. Hope left as a crowd gathered.
The father and his wife called police from a nearby convenience store where they were attempting to decontaminate themselves from the noxious fumes. A Texarkana, Texas, police officer noted the obvious physical distress caused to the father and his wife and to the young child, who also suffered the effects of the pepper spray.
The officer called paramedics to assist in the decontamination and the paramedic advised the baby should be treated at a hospital. The baby's face was "red and swollen," according to the affidavit.
The 1-year-old had been recently placed in his father's custody by Child Protective Services, the affidavit states.
Hope pleaded guilty Monday to injury to a child at a hearing before 5th District Judge Bill Miller. Assistant Public Defender Sylvia Delgado and Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter told the court the agreement reached between the state and defense includes a term of probation.
Miller ordered a presentence investigation be completed by the Bowie County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. A report on the investigation will include information meant to aid the court at sentencing including a review of Hope's criminal, educational and social history.
Delgado asked Miller to set a bond for Hope as she has been in custody since her arrest Sept. 15. Miller agreed that Hope can be freed once she has met with probation officials for the presentence report.
Hope faces two to 10 years in prison or up to 10 years on felony probation. If the judge rejects the plea agreement for probation, Hope will have the option of withdrawing her plea of guilty and taking the case to trial. Miller scheduled the case for sentencing in May.
Two counts of misdemeanor assault involving the child's father and his wife remain pending in Bowie County Court at Law.