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Man charged after allegedly slapping baby

Crime Watch

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POCATELLO — A man who allegedly slapped a two-month-old after the baby pulled his beard faces a felony charge.

Colton Michael Hart, 21, has been charged with injury to a child, court documents show.

Pocatello police received a call from the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office around 6 p.m. Friday, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The sheriff’s office requested Pocatello police take over an investigation into a suspected shaken baby, as the man accused of causing the injury, Hart, was the son of a former deputy and it may create a conflict of interest.

Officers responded to Portneuf Medical Center to speak with witnesses.

One of the witnesses told officers they were receiving messages from Hart who claimed to be suicidal, the affidavit says. Officers overheard Hart tell the witness that he was not going to jail and would force police to shoot him.

Officers were dispatched to locate Hart and detain him for his safety.

When police spoke with the mother of the baby, she said she received a call from Hart saying he had slapped the baby.

The mother told officers that after receiving the alert, she went to Hart’s home to retrieve the baby. She said Hart admitted to slapping the baby, but said he did not hit the child in the eye.

However, the mother described the baby’s eyes as looking “weird.” She told officers that in addition to bruising and swelling to the baby’s face, both the baby’s arms were also blue from the elbow to the hand.

She took the baby to Portneuf for medical treatment.

Officers noted that both the baby’s eyes were swollen, with dark purple coloring to both eyelids. They also noted petechial spotting on the baby’s eyelids, redness in both underarms and the left side of the baby’s face, court documents say.

A nurse told officers that when the baby arrived at the hospital, all injuries were worse than they were as police examined them. The nurse also told officers that when the baby arrived, the child was wearing a urine-soaked diaper and was very hungry.

The baby’s mother used an app on her phone to locate Hart’s phone, showing officers he was in the Portneuf parking lot. Police found him and took him to the department for questioning.

He told officers that he was tasked with babysitting from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and that the baby had been asleep much of that time.

Hart reportedly told officers that when the baby woke up, around 12:30 p.m., the child began crying. He said the baby would not stop crying, despite his attempts to feed the child. He said he picked the baby up, but when the baby pulled his beard he became angry and slapped the child, according to the affidavit.

He said he slapped the baby once, then called the baby’s mother to come get the baby.

Asked if he had done anything else to hurt the baby, Hart allegedly said he had pinched the baby’s legs and left bruises.

He also said that while the baby was crying, he put a finger in the baby’s mouth and pushed down until the baby stopped crying. He said that he stopped because the baby’s mouth started bleeding, the affidavit says.

Hart was arrested and taken to the Bannock County Jail, where he is being held on $75,000 bond.

Although Hart has been charged with these crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.

If he is found guilty, Hart could face up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

He is scheduled to appear in court before magistrate Judge Eric Hunn for a preliminary hearing on June 7.

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