A man was sentenced to three years and two months in prison Thursday for abusing his girlfriend’s 6-month-old son at a Tumwater home, fracturing the boy’s skull and causing his brain to bleed.
Terry Morton, 19, of Olympia entered an Alford plea to the second-degree assault of a child charge before he was sentenced, meaning he did not admit guilt but conceded there might be enough evidence to convict.
The investigation into the injuries began Feb. 26, when police were dispatched on a report that an infant was unconscious and not breathing at an address on Fortner Drive. The department later gave Officer Bryent Finch, one of the first to arrive, a lifesaving award for giving the baby cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Chief John Stines has said.
Morton was caring for the baby and called 911 when the boy stopped breathing, court papers state. Emergency room doctors noticed bruising on the boy’s forehead and under his eye, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Skinder said in court.
Doctors didn’t believe the mother’s story that the infant had suffered an allergic reaction, Skinder said.
Detective Chuck Liska interviewed Morton at the hospital and said he was shocked when Morton said he didn’t like having to care for the child, Skinder said. Morton also told Liska he might have dropped the child once, Skinder said.
“Obviously being a parent, it’s tough to see the damage that’s caused by one person’s selfish act,” Liska said outside court Thursday. “It’s totally preventable. It’s somebody taking care of a child who has no business taking care of a child.”
The infant was sent to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit. He is doing much better now, Skinder said in court, but he added that the boy still has vision and arm-movement issues. He also will need to wear a brace because of a leg injury, Skinder said. Because of the boy’s age, it is difficult to tell how he will recover, he added.
Morton was ordered to have no contact with the child or the child’s father for 10 years. Morton allegedly made a comment during a phone call from jail that might be construed as a threat to the baby’s father, Skinder said in court.
The baby spends time at both his mother’s and father’s residences, Liska said.