Weatherford Democrat

April 5, 2013

Infant’s death probed

Sister removed from parents after baby’s death


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

Prior to the death of a 3-month-old boy early Thursday morning in a Fort Worth hospital, Child Protective Services removed his 1-year-old sister from her Weatherford parents after doctors found Tuesday what they believe to be injuries to the boy consistent with abuse.

According to documents filed in a Parker County court-at-law Wednesday, a doctor at Cook Children’s Medical Center found injuries on 3-month-old Laughton Champion “consistent with severe abusive head injury on more than one occasion.”

Affidavits filed by Dr. Jamye Coffman and a CPS investigator state that an MRI and other initial tests Tuesday revealed what are believed to be old and new brain bleeds and a spinal injury in the baby’s neck area. Additional diagnostic tests were pending at the time.

The boy reportedly stopped breathing early Tuesday morning while both children were spending the night with their father at a residence in the 5300 block of Farm-to-Market Road 51 North.  

The couple separated a few weeks prior due to domestic violence issues, the mother reportedly told CPS. She reported the children left her Weatherford home around 2:30 p.m. Monday healthy and happy and she received a text that the boy was not breathing around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Parker County Sheriff’s Office investigator Robert Pawley told CPS that the child’s father said the boy was sleeping under his left rib cage area when he noticed the boy had stopped breathing.

The father reportedly held the infant up to his ear and found his breaths were decreasing before turning him on his stomach and hitting him on the back to make him breath or dislodge anything in his airway, according to court documents.

After a 911 call was made, the child was taken to the hospital by ambulance and placed on life support, court records state.

The infant was pronounced dead around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. A ruling on the cause of the boy’s death was pending as of Thursday afternoon.

Though she was examined and did not have any injuries, CPS removed the boy’s older sister from the family because of the prior calls to authorities reporting domestic violence and because CPS said they didn’t know in whose care the alleged injuries occurred.

CPS responded to two prior complaints involving the family, according to court documents.

A complaint in March 2012 alleging neglectful supervision of the sister was ruled out.

The department also received a physical abuse complaint regarding a sheriff’s office report indicating the father assaulted the children’s mother in May while she held the baby girl. The case was forwarded to Alabama, where the family had reportedly moved.

Charges against the father relating to the May incident, including a class A misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, remain pending in a Parker County court, records indicate.

The investigation into the child’s death was ongoing and no one had been charged in the case as of Thursday afternoon, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler told the Democrat. The autopsy was done Thursday morning and they didn’t yet have the report from the medical examiner’s office, Fowler said. 

The Democrat was unable to reach the parents for comment by deadline.