MOORHEAD-Shawn Michael Foltz, a Moorhead man accused of injuring his 2-month-old daughter, including rubbing hot sauce and cayenne pepper in her mouth, nose and eyes, snapping a towel at her eyes, head and shoulders hard enough to cause bruises, and blocking her airway until she turned blue, pleaded guilty Thursday, June 28, in Clay County District Court to one of four felony counts he faced in the case.

Under oath, Foltz, 32, pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree assault of a victim under the age of 4, for snapping the towel and bruising the baby. A plea agreement calls for Foltz to spend 30 months in prison, pay a $50 fine and pay his daughter's medical costs.

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While the felony charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, Minnesota's sentencing guidelines on that charge alone would normally result in a sentence of probation. That's why the plea agreement is considered an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines.

Judge Amber Gustafson set Foltz's sentencing date for Aug. 8.

Foltz had also faced charges of third-degree assault for using the hot sauce and cayenne pepper on the child; neglect or endangerment of a child for the assaults already mentioned, plus pinching and hitting and throwing bang snaps fireworks at the child, spraying her with cold and hot water to cause pain; and malicious punishment of a child, for causing multiple bruises on the baby from his actions.

The abuse occurred from about April 10, 2017, until May 30, 2017, when the baby's mother brought her to the Essentia Health emergency room. There, police officers saw the baby had dark bruises over both eyes, red marks on her back and a bruise on her shoulder.

According to the statement of probable cause in the case, a doctor also determined there was a fracture to the baby's right wrist, and medical staff agreed that the baby's injuries were not accidental.

The mother told police the baby and her 3-year-old brother had been left in the care of their father at home earlier in the evening. She said Foltz denied hurting the baby and claimed the injuries were caused by the older child hitting the baby with a toy gun.

In an interview with a police detective, Foltz said he caused the injuries by snapping the baby in the face with a towel. He also talked about being frustrated with her crying, and using a wooden spoon and a piece of vinyl flooring to hit her on the bottom. Foltz also told police that while at work, he would think about ways to harm the baby, the criminal complaint against him said.

Foltz also told the detective that he had hit the baby hard enough with a piece of flooring to cause her to defecate.

In court Thursday, Foltz, dressed in Cass County Jail orange and now sporting a bushy red beard with his hair trimmed tight to his scalp, calmly and politely answered all of the questions put to him by the prosecution and defense.

Foltz admitted in court that he abused the baby because he knew the baby could not tell anyone what was happening.