Investigators believe the girl's head was bashed into a bedroom door. The door cracked her skull and left her brain bleeding. The injury could have been fatal, court papers said.
Investigators say Danny Towner II, 26, is responsible for the girl's fractured skull. Towner reportedly admitted that he became frazzled trying to care for the child and struck the girl's head on a door.
Prosecutors recently charged Towner with second-degree assault of a child. He pleaded not guilty last week during a brief hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court. He was being held on $100,000.
Towner was baby-sitting his girlfriend's two daughters, ages 16-months and 3, last month at a Marysville apartment. The woman was at work when her youngest daughter was hurt, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf wrote.
The mother came home to find her daughter's face swollen. Towner reportedly told her the 3-year-old knocked the younger girl to the ground at the park. The next morning the girl's face was even more swollen and she was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Doctors there quickly diagnosed the girl with a fractured skull.
She was moved to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Everett doctors reported the injury to Child Protective Services social workers. They were doubtful that the fracture was caused by a fall.
Two days later, Marysville detectives arranged to meet Towner at the playground where he said the girl was hurt. Towner agreed to let police videotape him as he recreated the incident. Detectives confronted Towner with the information from doctors.
They estimated that the force it would have taken to fracture the girl's skull is equivalent to a driver striking his head on a steering wheel during a 60 mph crash.
Towner then offered a different account, according to court papers. This time he said he accidentally struck the girl in the head with his knee while he was rushing into the kitchen. He said she fell into a chair. Again, he allowed police to videotape him recreating the incident.
Detectives were called back to the apartment by the girl's mother. She had discovered a crack in the bedroom door to the girls' room. There were at least two hairs embedded in the five-inch crack, court papers said. Police seized the door as evidence. Genetic testing is expected to be done on the hairs, Alsdorf wrote.
Detectives again pressed Towner for answers. They told him that his versions of events wouldn't account for the seriousness of the girl's injuries. Towner "was emotional during parts of this interview and appeared frightened to say what really happened," Alsdorf wrote.
That's when he explained hitting the girl's head on the door. He told detectives the girl had been crying so he picked her up to comfort her. He said he was "frazzled" and "lost it." Towner said he was going to put the girl in her room and struck her head into a closed bedroom door.
"The door is usually open and I hit her and I tried to cover it up," the man reportedly told police.
While the girl's head injury had the potential to be life-threatening, doctors are optimistic that she didn't suffer any neurological damage, court papers said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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