A 53-year-old man who strangled his pregnant girlfriend and kicked her in the stomach Thursday night may have caused the unborn baby's death, a sheriff's lieutenant said.
Mark Mason was being held at the Thurston County Jail Friday on suspicion of first-degree manslaughter and felony harassment. His bail was set at $500,000.
"At this point, we've got probable cause to believe that the intentional assault he committed on her is the reason the baby died," Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said.
Deputies responded to a home in the 12000 block of Zeller Road SE Thursday night on a report of domestic violence.
Deputies learned that Mason and his girlfriend had been drinking alcohol, and they got into a dispute that turned physical. The argument started after Mason accused the woman of using drugs, court papers state.
The woman, who was six-months pregnant, had learned "that her baby's brain was not developing normally and its heart was on the wrong side of its chest." court papers state.
Also according to court papers:
During the fight, Mason's girlfriend struck him in the head with a frying pan, causing a cut on his forehead that required stitches. Mason's girlfriend said that Mason strangled her during the fight and threatened to kill her.
The pregnant woman also told deputies that "Mark kicked her in the stomach and told her if he killed the baby he was doing it a favor."
The woman complained of stomach pain, and was taken by ambulance to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. At the hospital, doctors learned her unborn baby was dead.
The baby was alive during her most recent ultrasound on Monday.
Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock said Friday that the deceased baby has not yet been delivered. After the baby is delivered, an autopsy will have to be performed to determine its cause and manner of death.
Detectives with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office will continue to investigate exactly how the baby died, Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Brady said Friday.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 firstname.lastname@example.org