(BLOOMFIELD) - In late September of 2012, a baby from Greene County, not quite three months old, was admitted to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis with bruises and swelling of his brain. Indiana State Police Detective Brian Smith was dispatched to the hospital.
Anna Rochelle, of the Greene County Daily World reports, Det. Smith first spoke with a case worker from the Department of Child Services (DCS) in Greene County who told him she had learned through speaking with doctors and nurses at Riley that the baby had multiple hematomas in his brain that were in different stages of healing and that it would take significant force to cause the injuries.
The investigation has been ongoing and on Wednesday the first arrest was made in the case.
David G. McNeal, 22, the baby's father, was booked into the Greene County Jail Wednesday.
The case was filed by Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw on April 12 and a warrant issued for McNeal's arrest. He turned himself in. His bond was set at $15,000 surety with ten percent cash allowed. He posted $1,500 cash and was released later the same day. According to court records, McNeal is a resident of Worthington.
When McNeal appears in Greene Circuit Court next Wednesday for an initial hearing, he will be formally charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, a class B felony, and neglect of a dependent causing bodily injury, a class C felony.
Late Thursday, the prosecutor filed another case in Greene Circuit Court also involving neglect of a dependent against the baby's mother, Jaycie A. Gouckenour. That case is pending.
During the investigation, Det. Smith conducted a number of interviews, talking with both father and mother, caseworkers, doctors and other personnel at Riley Hospital. He explained his findings in a lengthy probable cause affidavit.
According to the affidavit, McNeal and Gouckenour both said an incident had occurred with the baby on a Monday. McNeal said he was watching the baby while Gouckenour was at work. The baby had a bad diaper rash and when he changed the diaper, the baby started crying and got hysterical with crying. He allegedly said the baby's crying got so bad that the baby lost his breath and passed out, so he (McNeal) picked him up and shook him to wake him up. But that didn't work so he laid the baby down and rubbed his stomach and the baby did eventually wake up after 15-30 seconds. Then the baby was crying again so he bounced him to settle him down. He allegedly admitted that he did not support the child's neck when he was shaking him.
Both mother and father told the detective the baby seemed fine on Tuesday but on Wednesday the baby was acting funny. On Thursday they took the baby to see a doctor. The doctor ordered a scan and an x-ray, a hematoma was discovered and the baby sent from Bloomington to Riley Hospital by a Lifeline ambulance. The detective arrived at the hospital and began his investigation on Friday.
When questioned about how the child might have gotten multiple hematomas, the detective heard a story about how McNeal had been carrying the baby a couple of weeks earlier and had banged the baby's head on a bathroom door but it did not even leave a bruise.
Information, opinions and diagnosis, from four different doctors and a pediatric resident is detailed in the affidavit suggesting the baby suffered at least three injuries with one of them a fresh injury, that the baby had a huge subdural with lacerations on both sides of his brain, and that it would take violent force to cause these injuries. One doctor stated that the baby would not be the same after these injuries and would likely start to have developmental problems around age two, would most likely be learning disabled and have poor impulse control.
In addition, the affidavit notes that both doctors and the detective felt that the response of the parents had been inappropriate when speaking about the situation, and nonchalant about the significance of the injuries.
According to the affidavit, doctors at Riley have ruled out several possible causes of the hematomas including birth injuries, bleeding disorders, other routine trauma, and other uncommon causes, and that the injuries were caused only by dramatic violent events consistent with acceleration/deceleration injuries.
If McNeal were to be convicted of both counts, he could be facing eight to 20 years on the class B felony and two to eight years on the class C felony.
Greene County DCS remains involved with the case and the child has been placed in the care of other family members.
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