Danny Towner II, 27, pleaded guilty late last week to child abuse, admitting that he was responsible for assaulting his then-girlfriend's 16-month-old daughter. Investigators alleged that Towner bashed the girl's head into a bedroom door on April 7. The door cracked the toddler's skull and left her with bleeding around her brain.
The force was akin to a driver striking his head on the steering wheel in a high-speed crash, according to a doctor who examined the girl in April. The toddler's head injury was potentially life-threatening, but doctors are optimistic that she didn't suffer any neurological damage, according to court documents.
Towner admitted to police that he became frazzled trying to care for the girl and her 3-year-old sister while their mother was at work.
The mother came home to find her daughter's face swollen. Towner told her the 3-year-old knocked the younger girl down 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 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.
Marysville detectives met with Towner at the playground where he said the girl was hurt. He agreed to let police videotape him as he recreated the incident. Detectives confronted Towner with the information from doctors.
The doctors 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 changed his story. 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 confronted Towner again after they were called back to the Marysville apartment by the victim's mother. She had found a crack in the bedroom door. There were at least two hairs embedded in the five-inch crack, court papers said. Police seized the door as evidence.
Detectives pressed Towner, saying 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."
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 told police.
The girl's mother wrote a letter to the sentencing judge, saying that Towner has caused not only physical pain to her daughter, but emotional trauma for the entire family.
"This will impact us for our entire lives. I regret the day I ever met him," the woman wrote.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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