Crime & Courts

Man accused of feeding octopus to toddler pleads guilty, gets probation

Matthew Gallagher, 37, accused of force feeding an octopus to his girlfriend’s toddler in April pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges Thursday morning.
Matthew Gallagher, 37, accused of force feeding an octopus to his girlfriend’s toddler in April pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges Thursday morning. File photo

The man accused of force feeding an octopus to his girlfriend’s toddler in April pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges Thursday morning.

Sedgwick County District Court Judge Ben Burgess immediately sentenced Matthew Gallagher, 37, to a year in jail but said he didn’t have to serve the time if he successfully completed two years of probation.

Gallagher’s plea comes a little more than two weeks before he was scheduled for a jury trial on a count of aggravated child endangerment, a felony.

He pleaded guilty to amended charges of child endangerment, battery and interfering with law enforcement, the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Wichita police arrested Gallagher on suspicion of child abuse after doctors dislodged the small octopus from the 2-year-old boy’s throat on April 5.

Gallagher was reportedly babysitting the boy in the 4900 block of East Waterman while his 21-year-old mother worked when the cephalopod became stuck in his airway. Gallagher has claimed the boy put the octopus in his own mouth.

The couple took the boy to a Wichita hospital after he stopped breathing. Hospital staff notified police of the case after they determined Gallagher’s story account didn’t match the boy’s injuries.

Gallagher was charged two months later. The octopus was likely intended to be used as sushi, police have said.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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