The injuries, which did not get immediate medical attention, were noticed in September by a student and staff at the boy's elementary school in Lynnwood. The school contacted a state Child Protective Services social worker who called Lynnwood police.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Christopher Sedgewick told a judge in Everett District Court Thursday that the woman, 27, allegedly used the stovetop "as a form of discipline."
The boy initially wouldn't answer questions from a counselor and a school nurse about how his hands ended up with burn marks.
The nurse who examined the boy's hands told authorities the injuries did not appear to be accidental.
When investigators first approached the mother, she speculated that her son might have tried to toast marshmallows on the stove when she was sleeping or hurt them on the monkey bars at his school. She later refused to answer questions on the advice of her attorney.
A doctor from Seattle Children's Hospital examined photographs of the boy's hands. He said there appeared to be four separate burn patterns on the palms, "indicating multiple contacts, not one," court papers said.
The boy later told a health clinic worker in Lynnwood that he had stolen a friend's iPod and his mom put his hands on the stovetop when she learned about it.
On Oct. 2, a child interview specialist from the Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center in Everett asked the boy if he was given anything to put on his burns. He said his mother had him cup his hands so she could put salt on the wounds. He said it made him feel "more owie," court papers said.
The boy also said his mother had hit him with a spoon and a shoe on his head and bottom.
A judge set bail at $25,000 on Thursday.
Caseworkers have removed the boy and his brother, 3, from their mother's Lynnwood apartment and have placed them in another home.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; email@example.com.
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