January 8, 1998 in Nation/World

Boyfriend Charged With Baby’s Death Idaho 4-Month-Old Dies Of Head Injuries At Spokane Hospital

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Prosecutors charged a Post Falls teenager Wednesday with shaking his girlfriend’s infant son to death.

Court papers filed in 1st District Court charge John D. Franzatti, 18, with first-degree murder. He is accused of killing the 4-month-old son of his live-in girlfriend.

Blake Kitchen died Monday evening at a Spokane hospital, said Deputy Prosecutor Traci Post. The infant had been on life support in the pediatric intensive care unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center since Saturday afternoon.

Doctors determined the boy’s injuries “were consistent with shaken baby syndrome,” said Post Falls police Lt. Dick Halligan.

The infant had internal head injuries when he arrived at the hospital, Post said. Authorities are awaiting results of an autopsy performed Wednesday in Spokane to determine the extent of the damage.

Franzatti turned himself in to police Wednesday afternoon, Halligan said. He was booked into the Kootenai County Jail on a no-bond murder warrant.

Authorities have not released the mother’s name but said Franzatti was not the baby’s father.

Police have released few details of what happened, saying only that they were summoned to the couple’s home at Ross Point Road and Second Avenue with paramedics about 11:30 a.m. to a call of a child choking.

The infant was taken to Kootenai Medical Center and later flown by helicopter to Sacred Heart, Halligan said. Doctors pronounced the infant dead about 4 p.m. Monday.

The criminal complaint filed Wednesday by prosecutors accuses Franzatti of shaking Blake Kitchen to death.

If the infant’s death did result from abuse, it would be fourth reported in the Panhandle in the past 2-1/2 years. In each case, the mother’s boyfriend has been charged in connection with the infant’s death.

Two of the men, Ralph Reyes and Kevin Merwin, were convicted in Kootenai County. A third, David Pettit, is awaiting trial in Latah County on a first-degree murder charge.

The victims in those cases ranged in age from 3-1/2 months old to 2 years old. The accused were between the ages of 20 and 24 when they were arrested.

Rob Gregory, who manages state family and children’s services in North Idaho, said child abuse cases frequently involve young families or relationships where the boyfriend is not the child’s father.

“The boyfriend may actually be in the relationship and see the child as an obstacle in the relationship,” Gregory said. “The boyfriend may not have that natural bond.”

Four out of every five perpetrators of child abuse are males, Gregory said. Victims also tend to be boys.

Most injuries are caused by enraged or frustrated parents or their parents’ partner. Gregory cautioned, however, that even playing too roughly can result in serious injury or death.

“People need to be aware of the consequences, not only to the children, but to them as well,” Gregory said.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

INFANT DEATHS

Police say the death of 4-month-old Blake Kitchen is the fourth incident of fatal child abuse reported in the Panhandle in the past 2 years. In each case, the mother’s boyfriend has been charged in connection with the infant’s death.

This sidebar appeared with the story: INFANT DEATHS Police say the death of 4-month-old Blake Kitchen is the fourth incident of fatal child abuse reported in the Panhandle in the past 2 years. In each case, the mother’s boyfriend has been charged in connection with the infant’s death.

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