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Hayden man gets at least 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting and seriously injuring infant

Aug. 26, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 26, 2022 at 10:30 p.m.

A 27-year-old Hayden man will spend at least 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting and seriously injuring an infant.

District Judge John Mitchell sentenced Nicholas T. Branson on Wednesday to 25 years fixed with the possibility of life in prison for forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object, according to a Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office news release. He sentenced Branson to 10 years fixed for injury to a child.

The sentences will run concurrently, meaning Branson, who pleaded guilty in June to both felonies, will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

Hailey N. Harris, 26, of Hayden, pleaded guilty in March to injury to a child for abusing the girl. Mitchell sentenced her in June to eight years in prison, with two additional years possible, according to court minutes.

The sentences stem from an investigation that started in December, prosecutors said.

Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene told the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that a 7-week-old infant had multiple injuries inconsistent with the parents’ description of how the injuries occurred, the release said. The infant was airlifted to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for further care.

The infant sustained a central nervous system injury, brain bleed, 11 rib fractures, fractured femurs, fractured legs, blunt force trauma to the liver and vaginal trauma consistent with “intentional and direct force,” the release said. The trauma likely happened over multiple weeks.

Prosecutors said Branson admitted to sexually assaulting the infant and contributing to the injuries to her legs, ribs and head. Harris, the child’s mother, admitted to other injuries.

The child’s long-term health consequences are unknown, the release said.

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