A Whatcom County man who broke the arm of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son last fall was sentenced to a year and five months in prison Thursday, Aug. 23, in Whatcom County Superior Court.
Jeremy Allen Dees, 26, pleaded guilty in June to second-degree assault, third-degree assault of a child and two counts of third-degree assault in connection with the boy's injuries.
The boy was transferred to Seattle Children's hospital from St. Joseph hospital in October 2011 for treatment. Dees claimed the boy broke his left arm in a fall from his SUV, but doctors at Seattle Children's said the spiral break wasn't consistent with a fall, according to court documents. Doctors said the break likely was caused by grabbing and twisting, commonly associated with child abuse.
Further exam revealed the boy had significant facial and body bruising not associated with normal childhood falls, as well as elevated liver enzymes associated with direct impact injuries to the liver.
Dees was dating the boy's mother and had been taking care of him for about six months while she worked full time. The boy's mother said she noticed the bruising but thought it was from the boy falling and bruising easily.
Witnesses at the couple's apartment complex said they noticed bruising on the boy over the previous five or six months, and one neighbor took pictures of bruising in the shape of finger marks on both sides of the child's face. When concerned neighbors would ask about the bruises, they were told that the boy falls a lot, runs into things and might be anemic.
When interviewed by a detective, Dees said he had been hitting the boy in the face and head and grabbing the boy's face one or two times a week for several months as a response to the child's outbursts, according to court documents.
He admitted the boy didn't fall out of his car and that he thought he broke the boy's arm when he forcefully dragged him from the SUV while the boy was crying. Dees said he couldn't account for the liver injuries, or bumps, depressions and cuts hospital staff saw on the back of the boy's head.
As part of his sentence, Dees will have to undergo domestic violence batterer's treatment and counseling under the direction of the Department of Corrections.
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