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Police Say Neighbor Saw Man Slam Baby Upstairs Neighbor Heard Loud Bangs From Apartment Of Suspect

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23, 1995

A neighbor witnessed Gavin Ritzler slam a 2-year-old boy on the floor Friday night in northeast Spokane, police said Tuesday.

Kory Holbrook died late Friday of severe head injuries. Police arrested Ritzler, 26, who lived with the child’s mother at 1320 N. Madelia.

An autopsy this week showed that Holbrook died of trauma to the head.

“It was some of the worst head injuries I’ve ever seen,” said Greg Harshman, a Spokane police detective. “It wasn’t just one blow.”

An upstairs neighbor, Robert E. Johnson, heard loud bangs from below on Friday night about 11:40 p.m., according to a court document made public Tuesday.

Johnson knew Ritzler is a diabetic who suffers episodes in which he becomes confused and bangs on the walls, the document said.

Johnson knocked on Ritzler’s door and asked if he needed food. When Ritzler said yes, Johnson went back upstairs and returned with an open can of peaches.

He saw Ritzler holding the baby with his chest facing up and slamming his body on the floor, Harshman said.

Ritzler then dropped the baby.

As Johnson tried to administer first aid to the infant, Ritzler approached him and said, “Sorry,” the document said.

Johnson then told his wife to call for medical help.

Medics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the boy.

When reached at home Tuesday, Johnson refused to comment on the case.

Harshman said he will recommend that prosecutors file a charge of at least first-degree manslaughter.

A manslaughter charge requires evidence of reckless behavior causing death, but not necessarily with an intent to kill.

Harshman said Ritzler has no criminal history of violence.

Efforts to reach Rea Holbrook, the child’s mother, have been unsuccessful.

Harshman said Holbrook won’t discuss the case with him.

“She did give an affidavit of support for (Ritzler),” Harshman said.

Ritzler remained in the Spokane County Jail late Tuesday on $25,000 bond.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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