His parents don’t know what set off an attack on 15-month-old Eryk Woodruff in September.
They pray that medical miracles will enable him to lead a normal life.
What they know for sure is that the husband of a friend has finally taken responsibility for his actions.
Matthew P. Christiansen, 32, of Everett, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree assault of a child for injuring Eryk while baby-sitting.
Christiansen stood before Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss and admitted guilt. He faces a prison term of between about eight and 10 years. His sentencing was scheduled for May 22.
The attack left Eryk with a broken jaw, rib fractures, a broken arm and a severe head injury that will require replacing part of his skull with a plastic cap, said his mother, Rachel Pierce.
“I’m glad it’s over and he stood up and said, ‘I was wrong,’ ” she said after the Christiansen’s plea. “We can finally pick up and move on.”
Christiansen is the husband of a friend of Pierce. He wasn’t working and stayed home during the day baby-sitting his own two children. Pierce was in the middle of an internship and she let Christiansen baby-sit Eryk and his 3-year-old sister starting Sept. 6.
On Sept. 13, Christiansen’s wife called 911 when she found Eryk unconscious. Eryk was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Christiansen told medics several stories. One was that Eryk fell down some stairs. Another was that he accidentally dropped Eryk while chasing his own son.
A doctor told prosecutors that bruises found on Eryk were in highly unusual locations for a child that age. His head injury was likely caused by either blunt impact or shaking, doctors told authorities.
According to court documents, doctors said it is highly unlikely that all the injuries suffered by Eryk were caused by a fall down the stairs or by rough play.
“He’s got a lot of medical issues,” deputy prosecutor Tammy Bayard said. It is unknown whether the boy suffered permanent damage.
Russell Woodruff, Eyrk’s dad, is hopeful for a full recovery, but the child likely will have to learn again many things he knew before the injuries.
“It’s hard,” Woodruff said. “As for his capabilities and what he will do later in life, we don’t know.”
Pierce said she sometimes feels guilty for allowing Christiansen to baby-sit. She’s also angry, but her family deserves to move on, she said. She’s left one lingering question: “How could someone do that to a baby?”
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.