Court documents show baby died of serious brain injuries, trauma to the head

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IDAHO FALLS — A 9-month old boy died of serious brain injuries and blunt force trauma to the head and police believe his father, Robert Saad, Sr., 30, is responsible for the death.

Saad is charged with first-degree murder by aggravated battery and court documents obtained by detail what allegedly happened before the child died.

Robert Saad, Sr. | Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office

Idaho Falls Police were called to the Saad home on the 1700 block of South Higbee Road on Sept. 15, 2016. It was reported the baby, Robert Saad, Jr., was not breathing after falling backwards and hitting his head.

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The child had been taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where doctors discovered a fracture at the back of his skull and bleeding on his brain, according to court documents. Robert’s left arm was also fractured but it was unclear if the injury was new or old.

“Dr. Aaron Gardner told police that there was unexplained bruising on Robert Jr.’s back and he was concerned that this child was ‘Failure to Thrive,’ meaning he was underweight for his age,” court documents state. “Dr. Gardner stated there were no external injuries on Robert Jr’s head and wanted to impress that the injuries he has are highly indicative of non-accidental injuries.”

The baby was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital where he died Sept. 18, 2016.

Two days before his death, Idaho Falls Police Department Detective Jessica Marley received a phone call from Dr. Larissa Hines at Primary Children’s.

“(Hines) explained that the reported story they had been given was Robert Saad, Jr. had been standing at the couch and fallen backwards…Dr. Hines explained the story given does not match the significant injuries Robert Saad, Jr. has,” court documents state.

Marley interviewed Saad on Oct. 20, 2016 at the Idaho Falls Police Department and he told her he had dropped his can of chew near the couch. He said he then put his arm behind Robert’s back as he bent down to pick it up, according to court documents.

Saad told Marley, “‘All of a sudden Robert, Jr.’s body ‘tensed up’ (and) he fell ‘straight back.’ Robert, Sr. said he was unable to catch him and his mom, Janice, tried to catch him and couldn’t make it…Robert, Jr.’s back and head hit the floor at the same time when he fell.”

Marley told Saad that his son had brain bleeding and severe fractures on the back of his head caused from an incredible amount of force.

“Robert, Sr. then said, ‘I’ll tell you exactly what happened with that fracture, because I know what happened,'” court documents state. “He said, ‘I don’t know if you went out into our backyard, there are big rocks. He fell back and hit his head on one of the rocks.’ I asked when that happened and he said Ashley would know when because she was outside feeding him because he was asleep, on a weekday morning. He said he doesn’t know how many days before the 15th, but he knows that is where that ‘fracture’ came from.”

When Marley told Saad his report didn’t match his son’s injuries, the suspect asked for his attorney to be present.

Marley spoke with three doctors, including the Utah Department of Health Chief Medical Examiner, who told her the alleged incident involving rocks in the backyard would not have caused the traumatic injury that resulted in the baby’s death.

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“Dr. Hines, Dr. Hansen, and Dr. Christensen separately explained the amount of force needed to cause the death by blunt force trauma would require significant force which resulted in bleeding on Robert Saad, Jr’s brain,” court documents state. “They each explained the bleeding on Robert Saad’s brain led to lack of oxygen or the anoxic brain injury which led to his death.”

Idaho Falls Police received the autopsy report for Robert Saad, Jr. on April 19, 2017 and his cause of death was reported as anoxic brain injury due to blunt force injuries of the head.

Saad was arrested Nov. 3 on a first degree murder charge. His bond was set at $100,000 and he is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Nov. 17.

If found guilty, Saad could face up to life in prison or the death penalty.