Blaine father gets 10 years for throwing baby onto floor

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 4, 2013 

A Blaine man must serve 10 years in prison for throwing his infant son against the floor in a fit of rage, leaving the child with brain damage.

Melvin Charles Johnson, 32, pleaded guilty as charged this week to first-degree assault of a child.

On Halloween 2012, as Johnson got ready to take his boys trick-or-treating, the 4-month-old child threw up on a car seat. In a hurry, Johnson carried the baby and car seat inside. As he lifted his son, Johnson saw vomited milk in the seat. Out of anger he threw the child onto the living room floor, "essentially shattering his skull," according to charging documents.

At the time the boy's mother was working. Johnson sent her a video from his phone. The infant seemed lethargic and wasn't "acting right," according to the charges. Johnson didn't tell her what he'd done.

That evening, the couple rushed the baby to St. Joseph hospital. He was unresponsive. But before police could interview Johnson, the child was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and the parents followed by car.

X-rays showed fresh cracks in the skull. And the baby had a separate, healing skull fracture and two healing broken ribs, according to the charges.

The next day, court records show, Johnson suggested to police a sibling "must have tripped and fallen on the baby" when the brothers were alone. Given the severity of the injuries, investigators explained, that was impossible. Johnson feigned ignorance.

But on Nov. 2, he made a tearful confession to police: He'd thrown the baby. He wasn't thinking clearly, he said, because they were in a hurry, according to the charges.

"It's an all-around tragedy," Deputy Prosecutor James Hulbert said.

Johnson pleaded guilty Monday, June 3, in Whatcom County Superior Court, accepting a 10-year prison term for the class A felony. He did not have a history of violent crime in Washington state courts.

No charges were filed related to the baby's older injuries.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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