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Parents of toddler attacked by python charged with abuse

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009 | 4:08 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Melissa Melendrez

Click to enlarge photo

Anthony Melendrez

The parents of a 3-year-old boy attacked last month by an 18-foot-long python snake kept as a family pet have been arrested as a result of the attack, Metro Police said.

Melissa Melendrez, 25, and her husband, Anthony Melendrez, 26, were booked into the Clark County Detention Center on warrants charging each of them with one count of felony child abuse resulting in substantial bodily harm and a second charge of felony child neglect, police said.

The second charge is a result of the boy's 5-year-old sibling being in the home at the time of the attack, police said.

In addition, Anthony Melendrez has been charged with criminal contempt as a Nevada fugitive on an oustanding warrant for DUI from Carson City, said Metro Police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan. She did not have the exact date of that warrant.

Last year, Anthony Melendrez had charges dismissed in May after he was accused of possession of a firearm while intoxicated in northern Nevada. He was charged after he shot himself in the left leg on March 14, 2008, with a .45-caliber handgun outside a residence in the Gardnerville Ranchos. Court records indicate Melendrez had a blood alcohol level of .128 (.08 is the legal limit for drivers in Nevada). Melendrez claimed he never submitted to blood or breath tests. He spent two days in the Douglas County jail after turning himself in, police said.

In the python attack, an investigation by Metro's Crimes Against Youth and Family Bureau revealed the python wrapped itself around the 3-year-old and began both biting the child and constricting him, preventing the child from breathing, police said. This is the normal method used by pythons to kill their prey in the wild.

During the attack, the mother of the boy used a kitchen knife to free the child from the snake's grasp, but not before the toddler had suffered several open wounds due to the python's bite, police said.

The python survived, but ultimately was euthanized by animal control authorities due to injuries suffered in the incident.

Five other snakes found in the home on the day of the snake attack were turned over to Clark County Animal Control officials, police said.

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