A Keyport man was arrested by Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputies Dec. 6 in connection with the death of his two-month-old son.
Damien Charles McCarter, 32, was arrested at 10:30 a.m. on charges of second-degree murder with bail set at $1 million.
According to a KCSO statement issued later that day, officers responded to calls from social workers at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma following reports of a skull fracture and other injuries inflicted on the infant.
The infant had first been airlifted from Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale to Tacoma after being diagnosed with a depressed skull fracture with subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages (bleeding between the brain and skull).
Mary Bridge medical staff conducted additional tests and exams on the infant and informed the family that he was not likely to survive his injuries, and if he did, he would be severely brain-damaged. The social workers told investigators that it was at this time that McCarter appeared to be distraught and tearful, saying, ”I killed my baby,” according to the incident report.
The infant had sustained multiple injuries and significant damage to his brain tissue, which caused it to suffer strokes. Staff also noted the infant had sustained multiple rib fractures, as well as signs of bruising around his face, hands and abdomen, which are consistent the diagnosis of non-accidental trauma. Lab tests also indicated the infant’s liver enzymes were elevated, which also suggested non-accidental trauma.
McCarter allegedly told detectives that earlier in the day, he had been getting the infant ready to go for a car ride to calm him down and had placed him in the car seat but had not secured the center harness. McCarter told investigators the car seat had been placed on top of a table. While picking up the car seat with both hands, McCarter allegedly told detectives he hit his left hand on the dining room chair, causing him to drop the car seat, which landed face down on the carpeted floor.
McCarter told police he turned the car seat over frantically and that the infant was crying for a while, but then became limp and lethargic.
The child’s mother was at work when the incident occurred.
The infant was taken off life support on Dec. 4 and pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m. that day.
A forensic pathologist performed an autopsy on the infant and the Kitsap County Coroner concluded that the infant’s cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries to the head and recent rib fractures. Medical authorities also determined these fatal injuries could not have been caused by a fall onto a padded carpet while in a padded car seat.
It was determined the infant had sustained these fatal injuries while in the sole care of McCarter. The report from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office stated that McCarter’s account of how these injuries occurred was not consistent with the nature of the injuries.
“We are extremely saddened by the brutal pain and suffering this baby endured during the last few hours of his life,” said Lt. Jon VanGesen of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Investigations and Support Services Division.
“The traumatic injuries to the infant were extensive and shocking, even to our most senior criminal investigators.”
On Dec. 6, investigators went to McCarter’s home, where he was cooperative and demonstrated with a doll matching the infant’s size what had happened. Investigators explained to McCarter again that the injuries the infant sustained were not consistent with the drop. According to a statement of probable cause, McCarter admitted he was the only one home with the infant when the incident occurred, but maintained he did not know how the infant sustained the injuries.
McCarter appeared in Kitsap County Superior Court at 3 p.m. on Dec. 9. Kitsap County’s prosecuting attorney charged McCarter with one count of second-degree murder, to which McCarter pleaded not guilty.
If found guilty, McCarter could face life in prison. McCarter was remanded back to Kitsap County Jail pending release on bail, which was reduced from $1 million to $50,000. Should he receive bail, McCarter will be required to reside with an immediate adult family member under house arrest, which will include mandatory electronic home monitoring.
An initial trial date has been set for Jan. 27, 2020.