Foster parent, frustrated, allegedly shakes 2-month-old baby

The man initially told authorities he burped the boy too hard. The baby suffered a brain bleed.

LAKE STEVENS — A foster parent in Lake Stevens is accused of shaking a 2-month-old boy under his care, causing a brain bleed, according to a police report filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Because babies have weak neck muscles, violently shaking a baby can result in permanent brain damage, or death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

On Sunday, around 2:30 a.m., the boy was transported to the pediatric intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where a social worker suspected abuse. A Lake Stevens police officer arrived later the same morning and asked the doctor if the injury could have been from trauma experienced during birth.

“Not this far out,” the doctor replied. She said another person likely inflicted it.

The suspect, 32, told authorities he was taking care of the baby at home so his wife could sleep. The man explained that he had woken up at 2 a.m. to give the boy antibiotics for a respiratory infection. The baby cried, then stiffened up, he said. He told the officer that he cradled and rocked the boy, but he wouldn’t respond. That’s when he called 911.

After an hour of talking to the officer, the man changed his story: He said he tripped over a bassinet and possibly landed on the baby’s face. The man weights 230 pounds.

Later, a doctor reported that the baby had multiple fractures to his ribs and femur. The doctor was unsure how old the injuries were, but believed they were not caused by a fall that morning, according to court papers.

The officer talked to the suspect again. “Don’t tell me they found something else,” the man reportedly said.

His narrative shifted again. This time, he said he was burping the baby too hard. He demonstrated on a doll; each smack was hard enough to be audible.

He said he also remembered another incident, in which he fell on the stairs while carrying the baby.

At the end of their talk, the man said he would go live at his mother’s house because he “should not be around babies,” according to the report.

Later, a Seattle Children’s Hospital doctor assigned to the case called. She said the particular injuries, some of which were a few weeks old, were “classic” examples of repeated shaking.

In another interview with the officer, the man said he had once tossed the baby about 4 feet in a bout of frustration because the boy was being fussy, documents say. The boy landed headfirst. The suspect then allegedly shook the baby to get his attention, court papers say.

The man said he had shaken the baby previously, a couple of weeks after the boy was born, due to complications with feeding, according to the police report.

The suspect said other aspects of his life, like work, led to him losing control.

He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of second-degree assault of a child.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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