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Jury in Cortez convicts woman of child abuse that resulted in life-threatening injuries

Garland Malcolm was convicted on one count of child abuse July 14. (Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)
Six-year-old child might never walk or talk again

A jury convicted Garland Malcolm on one count of child abuse July 14 in Cortez after only three hours of deliberation. The charge is a Class 3 felony.

According to the arrest affidavit, which The Journal obtained from the Montezuma County District Attorney’s Office, Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bryan Hill was called to Southwest Memorial Hospital on Jan. 6, 2022, for an unconscious juvenile.

Nurses at the hospital reported that the child’s mother, Malcolm, told hospital staff members that she found her child on the floor in the kitchen, but later changed her story, telling them that the child was “running around screaming throughout the house,” said the affidavit, written by Detective Yvonne Huff.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the 6-year-old boy was unresponsive and was intubated. A CT scan revealed a “large subdural hematoma,” known as a brain bleed. The child was flown to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs.

A virtual meeting with doctors in Colorado Springs was held to report the extent of the child’s injuries. He was found to have head trauma “equivalent to a motor vehicle accident” and “being ejected from the vehicle or thrown from a horse,” the affidavit reported. Medical doctors reported that the injuries could not have been the result of an accident, and the child could not have injured himself.

Other injuries included a skull fracture, torn ligaments in his neck, and tears and hemorrhages in both retinas, “which could result in blindness or partial blindness” if the child survived, the affidavit said. Bruising was found on the lower portion of his body.

Because the child had no history of head trauma, all the injuries were “diagnostic of child physical abuse and abusive head trauma,” the affidavit said.

Malcolm and her husband, Roy Malcolm, adopted three biological siblings in October 2020, including the injured boy. The couple also have a biological child of their own. The three uninjured children were interviewed by Chris Veach of Montezuma County Child Services.

The children described their punishments for “being naughty,” saying they had to run laps around the house or the horse pasture when they got in trouble. At least one of the children was also made to do squats or jumps.

The interviews also revealed that the children were spanked with a hairbrush, which would break, or with a belt. Their parents would belt the bed covers around them so they couldn’t get up and sneak food in the night, the interviews revealed, and their mother sometimes struck the children, bloodying their noses.

On Feb. 3, 2022, the Montezuma County Department of Social Services reported that the 6-year-old was “in a persistent vegetative state with a feeding tube for eating, a trachea tube for breathing, and a shunt in his brain to help drain the fluid,” the affidavit said. The child was not responsive in any way, and muscle atrophy had begun.

A Journal reporter spoke with prosecuting attorney Jeremy Reed to learn more about the child’s current condition.

“The child can’t walk, can’t talk and can’t interact with the world in any meaningful way,” Reed said. The child is fed through a nutritional tube and must use a wheelchair. From the medical professional’s testimony, the boy’s injuries aren’t likely to get better, Reed said.

He wanted to make a statement thanking those involved in the trial.

“I would like to thank the jurors who dedicated a week of their lives to this case,” Reed said. “The jury should be proud of their service, and I want them to know that their service is appreciated.”

“I’d like to thank Christian Champagne, the district attorney for the 6th Judicial District, who agreed to take on this case when procedural issues mandated that this be prosecuted by a different district,” he said. “Mr. Champagne then agreed to deputize myself and Rob Shapiro so we could continue on prosecuting this case.”

He also expressed gratitude to his co-counsel Shapiro for aiding in the trial and bringing “his impressive experience and talent in child advocacy to assist in this prosecution,” as well as providing advice along the way.

He also thanked his support staff and their crucial role, specifically thanking Cassie Robinson, Brenda Wright, Rebecca Gardner, Sylvia Lisk and Clarisa Osborn for their help with travel and logistics for the case.

“The prosecution in this case was important to this community, and the verdict was fair and just,” Reed said.

He said that the other children are doing well, and the people taking care of them are doing a great job. He did not elect to disclose who had custody of the children, as they are minors.

Malcolm’s official charge is listed as child abuse – knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury. Her sentencing hearing will be held Aug. 28. More information will be available after her sentencing.