July 19, 1995 in City

Infant’s Bones Broken By Father Daughter Wouldn’t Stop Crying; Squeezing Caused Five Fractures

By The Spokesman-Review
 

In a case strikingly similar to one sending a father to prison, another Spokane man has admitted severely injuring his infant daughter because she wouldn’t stop crying.

David A. Lee, 22, is charged with second-degree child assault for squeezing 2-1/2-month-old Alicia Lee so hard he broke five of her bones.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 3-1/2 years in prison.

In the previous case, David Pelletier was convicted in June of first-degree child abuse and faces up to 10 years in prison for throwing his 3-1/2-month-old daughter against a sofa. He, too, was upset that the baby wouldn’t stop crying.

The difference between the two cases is the severity of the injuries. Pelletier’s daughter, Courtney, suffered permanent brain damage at her father’s hand; Alicia Lee probably will recover from her injuries.

There’s another difference, although it legally can’t be used to sway the charges in the case: Lee is mildly retarded, or at least “slow,” according to several sources.

“All I know is, he was in special ed. That’s what he told me,” said Lee’s wife, Tara Lee, who left her husband after he hurt their daughter.

Tara Lee, 22, said she also attended special education classes while in school.

According to court documents, Lee fractured two of his daughter’s ribs, both her collar bones and her left leg on Dec. 14.

“She’s going through (physical) therapy right now,” said Tara Lee. The girl now is 10 months old and will recover, “as far as we know,” Tara Lee said.

Contacted at his parents’ North Side house, at 1908 E. Glass, David Lee would not discuss the case against him.

Compact and muscular, Lee is a 1992 graduate of the multi-agency Adolescent Program, where students with emotional problems learn academics and self-control. The school is operated by Spokane School District 81, Spokane Community Mental Health Center, and the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Tara Lee spoke only briefly and would say little about her marriage or how Tara was injured. She plans to file for divorce, she said, and doesn’t want her husband to know where she and her daughter live.

Deputy County Prosecutor Dawn Cortez, who handled the Pelletier and Lee cases, was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. Spokane police detective Roger Bays would not comment on the case, which is scheduled for trial in September.

Court documents refer to Tara Lee as a witness to the Dec. 14 incident. The couple took their daughter to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where they told a nurse and a police officer how she was injured.

Three months after his daughter was injured, David Lee again confessed, telling a Community Mental Health counselor “that he lost control of his emotions on two or three occasions,” according to court documents. Lee “admitted squeezing the baby too tightly with both arms because the baby would not stop crying.”

Tara Lee told authorities she once saw her husband squeeze Alicia so tight the baby screamed and David Lee’s arms changed color. The baby apparently was not injured in that case, about two weeks before her bones were broken.

After the girl was injured, a Spokane County judge appointed a guardian to help care for the baby and ordered David Lee to have no contact with his wife or daughter. The case became a low priority, and prosecutors did not file charges until May.

Lee was arrested and charged on June 9. He was released June 30 on $10,000 bond and told to stay at his parents’ home.

A Portland native, Tara Lee said she met her husband in Spokane through a mutual friend.

County records show the couple were married by Superior Court Judge Donna Wilson on March 16, 1994. Lee’s parents, Charles and Janice Lee, witnessed the ceremony.

Alicia Lee was born six months later.

, DataTimes

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