A Spokane man who admitted taking out his frustrations with a 2-month-old girl by shaking her until she suffered a critical brain injury was arrested Monday, police said.
Robert Charles Nelson IV, 27, was booked into the Spokane County Jail on suspicion of first-degree child assault after surrendering at the Public Safety Building, said police spokesman Dick Cottam.
Nelson is scheduled to make his first appearance in District Court today. Prosecutors have requested he be held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Nelson told detectives the girl was injured while he was baby-sitting her and his own 3-month-old daughter Sept. 3.
The victim’s 16-year-old mother had left the infant with Nelson for about six hours while she went to work, according to an affidavit filed by detectives.
Police refused to disclose the relationship between Nelson and the victim’s mother.
The baby began having convulsions and seizures the next morning, witnesses said.
Doctors at Sacred Heart Medical Center determined she had suffered a brain injury consistent with “shaken baby syndrome,” according to court records, and she was put on a ventilator for several days.
The girl was breathing on her own and listed in satisfactory condition at Sacred Heart on Monday.
Nelson has given several different accounts of how the girl was hurt, according to the affidavit.
He first told detectives he had shaken her violently while trying to wake her up for a feeding.
Nelson later said he had dropped the girl while trying to burp her, then said he had shaken her when she broke into an “ear-piercing” wail and wouldn’t stop.
“I shook her hard. Her head was rolling around, but not snapping back and forth,” he reportedly told detectives. “I could have shook her harder, but I didn’t.”
Nelson, who has no felony record in Spokane County, told detectives he was worried sick about the girl when he realized she was hurt, according to the affidavit.
“I was sick all day when I saw her in the hospital with the tubes and stuff. I almost puked,” he reportedly told detectives. “My stomach turned inside out because I knew I did it.”
Two years ago, a Spokane man found guilty of first-degree child assault was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
A jury convicted David Pelletier, then 19, of throwing his fussy 3-month-old daughter into the armrest of a sofa, causing brain damage.