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Man pleads guilty to injuring toddler who had to be flown to Primary Children’s Hospital

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James H. Dunkle | Bonneville County Jail

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic descriptions of child abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

IDAHO FALLS — A Bonneville County man pleaded guilty Friday to the abuse of an 18-month-old boy who was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City with severe injuries.

As part of a plea agreement, James H. Dunkle Jr., 30, pleaded guilty to felony injury to a child and felony infliction of great bodily injury enhancement.

Bonneville County Prosecutor Daniel Clark tells EastIdahoNews.com the plea agreement does not give sentencing recommendations and both parties are free to argue at the time of sentencing.

RELATED: Toddler endured horrific abuse before losing consciousness, according to court documents

According to court documents, Dunkle admitted to throwing, tossing, slapping, shaking and dropping the child. The incident occurred when Dunkle babysat the boy. He said the child vomited and he went to give him a bath. When he became “frustrated,” he told investigators he swatted the child three times on the buttocks.

Dunkle said he took the toddler to his room when he caught his own shoulder on a door frame and the boy fell on the floor head first. Dunkle said he put his hands under the child’s body and shook him, which caused his head to hit the floor.

After dropping the boy, Dunkle said he went to put the toddler onto a changing table, but caught his foot on a rug and tried to “toss” the boy onto the table. He said the child hit his head on the edge of the changing table before he fell face first onto the floor.

The 18-month-old boy who ended up in the hospital. | GoFundMe photo

“James admitted after putting a diaper on…he went to pick him up and intentionally ‘let the top half go.’ James said (the boy) fell back like he wasn’t supporting himself and ‘cracked’ the back of his head on the crib divider,” according to court documents.

Dunkle told detectives his frustration continued as he carried the boy into a bedroom and tossed him across the bed. Dunkle said the toddler hit a dresser headfirst and fell to the floor.

The little body lost consciousness, prompting Dunkle to call 911. The boy was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where doctors determined he had a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain, a collapsed and bruised lung, and various bruises on his body.

RELATED: Man accused of severely abusing toddler could face a longer sentence

A GoFundMe page was set up to help cover the expenses of the child’s recovery and $11,575 was raised. EastIdahoNews.com has contacted the child’s family for an update on his condition but our messages have not been returned.

A sentencing for Dunkle is scheduled for Sept. 18. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

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