Delaware County father sentenced for cutting child's eye with sword

MUNCIE, Ind. — A Delaware County father whose careless handling of a sword resulted in an eye injury for his child has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Neal Leroy Smith, 35, of Eaton, was sentenced last week by Delaware Circuit Court 2 Judge Kimberly Dowling after he pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 3 felony carrying up to 16 years in prison.

According to an affidavit, Smith on Jan. 23, 2021, was "in a rage" while involved in a dispute with his girlfriend, and took his two children outside and began "swinging a Katana sword around."

At some point, the court document said, Smith threw the sword, and it struck one of his children in the left eye, cutting her eyelid and eyeball and causing "deep lacerations."

The young victim was taken to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital's emergency department, and later was transferred to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where she underwent "emergency surgery," the affidavit said.

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The girl's mother told investigators her daughter might lose her sight in the eye. When charges were filed against Smith in April 2021, it was alleged the victim "continues to suffer from the injuries inflicted by Neal Smith."

The victim reported when Smith told medical staff at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital that he had accidentally struck her in the eye with a stick, he was not telling the truth, according to the affidavit.

Smith reportedly left, without explanation, while his daughter was being treated at the Muncie hospital. The Katana sword was later found in the yard of the family's home.

A related charge pending against Smith — battery resulting in bodily injury to a person under the age of 14, a Level 5 felony with a maximum six-year sentence — was dismissed.

He was given credit for more than 100 days already spent in the Delaware County Jail, and 125 days served on electronic home detention.

In a separate Circuit Court 2 case, Smith pleaded guilty to domestic battery, neglect of a dependent and strangulation, resulting in a one-year suspended sentence. Those charges had been filed in January.

According to court records, Smith — formerly of Muncie — had prior convictions for residential entry, invasion of privacy, theft, resisting law enforcement and driving while intoxicated.

Douglas Walker is a news reporter at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or at

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Eaton father who wounded child with sword draws 5-year sentence