Laporte man accused in baby assault gives multiple accounts
A man charged with assaulting his 3-month-old daughter told investigators three different accounts of events leading to her injuries, court papers filed Wednesday state.
Court records state the man, Roger Darrin Warner of Laporte, initially told law enforcement the girl fell from a bed. Warner then said he dropped the girl in the shower and finally reported falling on top of the girl.
The parents also reportedly waited several hours Jan. 2 before seeking medical care for the girl, who suffered life-threatening injuries in what doctors described as "non-accidental trauma."
Warner, 28, appeared Wednesday in Beltrami County District Court on a felony charge of first-degree assault, which carries up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He remains in jail on $1 million bail.
According to court documents, available publicly for the first time Wednesday:
At around 10:30 p.m. Jan. 2, a law enforcement officer was notified a 3-month-old baby, later identified as Warner's daughter, was being airlifted to Fargo due to life threatening injuries that were consistent with non-accidental trauma.
The baby had been living with her parents at the infant's grandparents' home, 19617 Mission Road in Ten Lake Township in Beltrami County.
Officers learned the infant had been sick and was seen by medical personnel Jan. 1 at the Cass Lake Health Hospital and Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. Medical personnel reported the infant was stable, eating vigorously and in no acute distress.
On Jan. 2, the infant's mother reported waking the baby up at around 1 p.m. to give her a bath. She reported the infant was non-responsive, that her hands were dangling in the water and her face was "moving weird."
At around 2:40 p.m., the mother called her stepmother and told her about her baby's condition. Her stepmother suggested calling an ambulance if necessary.
Neither Warner nor the baby's mother called an ambulance.
At 6:30 p.m., Warner and the baby's mother brought the infant into the emergency room at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. Medical reports indicated the infant had a leftward gaze, stiff muscle tone, poor respiratory effort and was nonresponsive to painful stimulus. A CT scan showed multiple fractures with intracranial hemorrhage, acute subdural blood, bilateral subdural hematoma, high eye bi-parietal skull fracture and a tenth rib fracture.
The injuries were noted as "highly suspicious for non-accidental trauma."
The baby was then airlifted to Fargo.
Court documents also state:
The infant's mother and Warner were interviewed by law enforcement. When asked about his baby's mobility, Warner said the baby could rollover and almost sit up, information that was inconsistent with the baby's age.
The baby's mother indicated her baby had never rolled over and was only able to sit up when being held.
When asked if anything happened to his baby that would explain her injuries, Warner said on Dec. 31 his 1½-year-old daughter had pulled the baby off a queen-sized bed on the floor of the living room before he brought the baby to the Cass Lake Hospital. He described the bed as being a box spring with mattresses stacked on top of it and being approximately three feet tall.
Warner said the baby cried "a little bit" but did not appear to be affected by the fall. He told officers there were no items on the floor that could have struck or hit the baby's head.
On Jan. 3, a special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and a local investigator took another statement from Warner.
Court records show Warner said he dropped his baby while showering with her about five days earlier. He reported the baby hit the back of her head on the tub faucet but did not appear injured.
The baby was seen by a doctor in Fargo, who indicated the baby had a bilateral skull fracture, which commonly occurs from a strike to the central top portion of the head; intercranial bleeding, which in the absence of a brain tumor, infection or coagulation disorder, is most consistent with a rotational acceleration/deceleration type of injury; extensive retinal hemorrhages in both the left and right eye, which are consistent with a rotational type injury; and posterior rib fractures on two ribs on the right side.
The doctor said the fractures are consistent with non-accidental trauma and being pulled of a bed and/or some sort of drop in the shower could not explain the extensive injuries the baby suffered.
On Wednesday, officers took another statement from Warner. He said he would give an explanation of what happened to his family if officers came back later in the week. When officers met with Warner last Friday, however, he refused to speak with them.
This past Monday, Warner was arrested and transported to Beltrami County Jail.
Court records said Warner initially denied being responsible for the injuries to the baby, but later said he fell on top of the baby while the two showered together.
Warner told an agent he fell as he got out of the shower, but never dropped the baby. He went on to say he shook the baby slightly to see if she was injured.
He said he reportedly fell before the baby was brought to the emergency room while the baby's mother was out.
When the agent confronted Warner about dropping the baby in the shower, Warner said he lied about the incident and when it happened. However, Warner said the baby "did slip from his hands," according to court records.
Warner's next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.