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Utah couple arrested after 3-month-old hospitalized with burns, internal injuries

Utah

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Daniel Howard Mercer and Whittney Angel Huber | Utah County Jail via KSL.com

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A Spanish Fork couple was arrested Tuesday after police say they were responsible for their 3-month-old child’s burns, broken bones and other injuries, according to a jail report.

Daniel Howard Mercer, 27, and Whittney Angel Huber, 30, were arrested in connection with the case, and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services filed a warrant to take custody of the child Tuesday, the report stated.

Mercer was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, assault, threat of violence, domestic violence in the presence of a child and possession of marijuana, while Huber was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, according to Utah County Jail records.

KSL.com reports Spanish Fork police began investigating on Monday when DCFS agents contacted them about a report of a child abuse offense involving a 3-month-old girl. The infant had been hospitalized at the University of Utah Hospital Burn Center with second-degree burns to her left hand that were believed to be suspicious, the report stated.

Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital conducting an evaluation Tuesday also discovered the child had broken bones in her left and right arms, intracranial brain bleeding “consistent with shaken baby syndrome” and possible detached retinas, the report stated.

At the time of Mercer and Huber’s arrests Tuesday, a specialist had yet to test if the possible detached retinas would lead to “vision problems or loss of vision,” according to the report. It also wasn’t determined if the child needed surgery to repair her injuries.

Doctors told police that the internal injuries had likely occurred over the previous two weeks and Mercer and Huber told police that the burn happened Monday morning, according to the jail report. Detectives interviewed the couple on Tuesday and also searched their apartment to take photos and collect evidence.

After the couple was taken to the Spanish Fork police station for questioning, Huber described “multiple accounts of being assaulted by (Mercer), some of which have been reported and some that have not,” the jail report stated.

Court records show that on Dec. 26, Mercer was charged in 4th District Court with assault, criminal mischief, domestic violence in the presence of the child, unlawful detention of a minor and damage of a communication device, all class B misdemeanors from two separate cases. He pleaded no contest to the assault, domestic violence and criminal mischief charges on Thursday, while the other charges were dropped, the records show.

But police said Huber continued to allow Mercer back into her apartment, a state housing apartment that he wasn’t supposed to be in because it was for women and children. Huber also failed to seek care for their child’s injuries, the jail report stated.

Mercer “did admit to recklessly causing the burns to his infant daughter’s left hand” and to previous death threats to the child, according to the report. Neither Mercer or Huber confessed or explained their daughter’s other injuries while in police custody, the jail report stated.

Mercer and Huber have previous “extensive criminal histories involving drugs, theft, assaults (and) fraud” in addition to Mercer’s Dec. 26 charges, the report stated. It stated that Huber also had two other children who were removed from her custody and adopted out in the past.

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