Pierce County prosecutors this week charged a 26-year-old Lakewood man with assaulting his 2-year-old daughter, who had to have two feet of her intestine removed because it was so badly injured in the alleged attack.
Peter James Smith on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree child assault, court records show. He remained in jail Thursday morning on $50,000 bail.
His daughter was thought to be in foster care.
Law enforcement began investigating Smith on Jan. 30 when he and his wife brought the girl to Madigan Army Medical Center because she'd been vomiting and refusing food for several days.
An emergency-room physician "immediately called for surgeons for an emergency procedure," the records show. They removed nearly two feet of the girl's intestine, as it was "dead and infected due to a traumatic perforation."
Detectives interviewed the girl's mother, who told them that during the early-morning hours of Jan. 23 she was awakened by her daughter's "blood-curdling scream," court records show.
She said she got out of bed to check on her daughter and met Smith in the doorway of their bedroom.
Smith appeared angry and told her to go back to bed, court records show. She complied.
The woman told police she noticed a bruise on her daughter's abdomen later that day but didn't ask Smith about it because she was afraid of how he would react.
"I think my husband hurt my daughter," she allegedly told detectives.
Investigators interviewed Smith on Feb. 7.
He told a detective he got up about 3 a.m. on Jan. 23 because his daughter was out of bed playing with a toy dog, court records show.
At first, Smith told detectives he merely put the girl back to bed. He later changed his story to say it was possible "that he kicked or stepped on" the girl as he entered her dark room, the records show.
He eventually said that he purposefully stepped on his daughter's abdomen and put his full weight on her because he was frustrated and tired, court records show.
"It was misdirected anger, and I hurt my daughter," he allegedly told detectives.
A doctor at Madigan later told detectives "significant force from a kick, stomp or punch was required to explain the damage to the intestine," the records state.