By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

The man accused of beating his toddler stepson and putting him in the hospital pleaded guilty to child abuse charges yesterday.

andquot;It was an open plea - there was no plea bargaining,andquot; said District Attorney Robert Drossel. andquot;He pled guilty to child abuse with great bodily injury and injury to a child under 5 years old.andquot;

Michael Shannon Vogt, 28, of Smith River, attempted to enter a guilty plea last month during his arraignment, but was advised by Judge William Follett to speak with an attorney before making any statements in court. Two days later, Vogt entered a andquot;not guiltyandquot; plea.

Drossel said he is asking for the maximum sentence for Vogt, which is a 12-year prison sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Vogt, who has no prior record, was arrested on Sept. 21 after his stepson, 17-month-old Calum Ferrell, was admitted to Sutter Coast Hospital with skull fractures and internal bleeding. Ferrell was transferred to the hospital at University of California, San Francisco for further treatment.

Drossel said Ferrell remains in andquot;guarded conditionandquot; at the hospital.

According to Evelyn Aldrich, the infant's maternal great-grandmother, Vogt was caring for Ferrell on Sept. 20 while his wife, Jennifer Vogt, studied for a school exam at another residence. When the mother returned and saw the boy wrapped in a blanket and crying, Michael Vogt said the boy had a cold.

andquot;He told her, 'He's sick but he'll be all right. He'll be all right tomorrow,'andquot; Aldrich said. Shortly afterward, friends of the family saw the boy's injuries and demanded he be taken to the hospital or they would call 911, according to Aldrich.

The boy was diagnosed as being deprived of oxygen at some point and may have suffered brain damage. According to Aldrich, it may take some time before doctors can determine what, if any, permanent damage the boy suffered.

andquot;Calum is still ill. He's awake but he seems to have a lot of damage. But we don't know how much,andquot; Aldrich said yesterday. andquot;About all he says is 'mama.'andquot;

Regarding yesterday's guilty plea, Aldrich said there are still a lot of questions to be answered.

andquot;The one time I spoke to (Michael Vogt) he didn't say anything. I asked him why he did it and he said 'I don't know,'andquot; said Aldrich. andquot;The next time I speak to him, I hope he can answer me.andquot;