District Attorney says plea agreement with Melvina couple is ‘just’

Couple was accused of putting their children in cages

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT)– A Monroe County couple accused of locking their children in cages pled guilty to some of the charges against them. Travis and Amy Headrick of Melvina quietly pled guilty to two counts of child neglect and one count of false imprisonment last week. The county’s district attorney said the agreement that was reached is fair based on multiple factors.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reports, obtained by News 8 Now through a Freedom of Information Act request, show Amy and Travis Headrick were investigated multiple times starting in 2008 for alleged child abuse. But charges were never filed against them.

In late Aug. 2018, authorities found some of the couple’s children locked in cages inside their home. According to the criminal complaint, authorities were investigating the children’s welfare when they made the discovery.

When officials arrested Amy Headrick, she said that she wasn’t a bad mom and claimed that the cages were meant to prevent her children from falling in the pool in the morning. She later said she put one of the children in a cage because it could be easily cleaned when he allegedly misbehaved, according to court documents.

Through an agreement, Amy and Travis Headrick pled guilty to:

-Child Neglect (specific harm did not occur). Class I felony.

-Child Neglect (bodily harm). Class H felony.

-False Imprisonment. Class H felony.

However, multiple other counts were dropped.

“There were some further negotiations and the parties realized that we could come to a resolution,” said Kevin Croninger, district attorney for Monroe County.

Croninger said during the negotiation process for any criminal case, there are discussions about what the state can and cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Part of a defense attorney’s job is to present information to the state that may cast some doubt on charges that we have. And then, we attempt to find a middle ground,” Croninger said.

He said both sides agreed that these charges could be provable if it were to go to trial.

“We reached a result that took into account a lot of different factors,” Croninger said.

The district attorney said one of his top priorities is to limit or avoid re-traumatizing victims.

“A very close second to that is ensuring that we [get] an outcome that is just and that adequately addresses the conduct,” Croninger said.

He said overall, this is a just result that protects the public and takes into account the unique circumstances of the children. Croninger said the child victims will not be able to live with Amy and Travis Headrick.

News 8 Now did attempt to contact the Headricks’ attorneys to ask why the couple wanted to plead guilty. However, they did not respond to a request for comment.

Amy and Travis Headrick will be sentenced on May 21.

Court documents show the District Attorney has agreed to cap his recommended prison sentence to three years of initial confinement, followed by eight years of supervision. However, when asked, Croninger declined to give specifics on his recommendation until the sentencing hearing. A judge will make a final ruling.