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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Court records detail days before infant’s death as parents waited to seek care

Aug. 17, 2018 Updated Fri., Aug. 17, 2018 at 10:19 p.m.

This Oct. 14, 2004 file photo shows computers displaying the Google Desktop search engine at the Digitallife show at New York's Jacob K. Javitz convention center. (MARY ALTAFFER / AP)
This Oct. 14, 2004 file photo shows computers displaying the Google Desktop search engine at the Digitallife show at New York's Jacob K. Javitz convention center. (MARY ALTAFFER / AP)
By Jonathan Glover and Rebecca White The Spokesman-Review

Before 3-week-old Emmett Sherman was taken to a hospital earlier this month due to troubled breathing, police say his parents waited two days to seek medical treatment, instead relying on Google searches for medical advice.

His father, 33-year-old Erik Sherman, was arrested Thursday afternoon and was held in Spokane County Jail on a $1 million bond on a charge of homicide by abuse. Friday afternoon a judge reduced his bond to $500,000 and said if paid, he could stay with his parents in Stevens County.

The child’s mother has not been arrested.

In court records filed Friday morning, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Emmett died from a “subdural hemorrhage of the brain” due to blunt impact. It listed the manner of death as a homicide, and detailed several other injuries, including a fractured collarbone, right eardrum, cuts to the face, a torn lip and bruising in both eyes.

The boy’s mother told detectives after she awoke to her baby’s mouth bleeding on Aug. 5, he was no longer able to eat, records say. To compensate, she and her boyfriend, Sherman, would “feed him by squeezing milk from the bottle into his mouth.”

Two days later they took Emmett to the hospital after he suddenly stopped breathing while Sherman was feeding him on the back porch of their Hillyard home, records say.

Court records say a doctor at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center described the baby’s injuries as “one of the worst cases of child abuse he had seen in 23 years of practice.” On Aug. 10, after it was determined he had a severe brain injury, doctors removed a ventilator and the child was pronounced dead.

In their investigation, detectives with the Spokane Police Department talked to a Child Protective Services worker, who interviewed the child’s mother and father separately.

The father said the baby had been pulling at a blanket and “grabbing his cheek really hard,” which is how he got the bruises and cuts on his face, say court records. He said the baby’s lip started bleeding when the infant was “throwing his head around a little bit” and hit his shoulder.

The child’s mother told the CPS worker she never witnessed any instances of abuse. Records say on Aug. 5, she walked past the bathroom and noticed blood on her boyfriend’s shirt coming from the baby’s mouth while Sherman said he “did not know” what happened.

Detectives also talked to Sherman’s 15-year-old daughter who lives in a separate home with her mother. Court records say on July 31 she heard her father from a nearby bedroom “yelling at the infant,” telling him that he “did not care how old he is” that he “needs to stop crying.”

At the tail end of the investigation, detectives reviewed text messages between the couple, according to court records. On Aug. 6, the boy’s mother said she wanted to take him to the doctor, saying he had no interest in food and he had a “weird temperature.”

Sherman refused, according to records, adding that he only needed food and a “warm rag on his head.”

If convicted of homicide by abuse, a Class A felony, Sherman could face life in prison.

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