A Casper man pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to squeezing his infant son’s head until the boy’s skull fractured.
Devan Deshay Thomas MacPherson, 25, was charged with and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated child abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Under the plea agreement, the prosecution is recommending 13 years for MacPherson, District Attorney Dan Itzen said. Judge Kerri Johnson will ultimately determine the sentence at a future hearing.
MacPherson, who was shackled and clothed in an orange jumpsuit in court Tuesday, quietly described holding his son in January, who’s referred to in court documents and proceedings by the initials H.M. MacPherson described squeezing him. The man spoke softly, and Johnson clarified that MacPherson had squeezed his son so tightly that it caused a skull fracture. MacPherson nodded.
According to court documents, Casper Police responded to Wyoming Medical Center on Jan. 22 for a possible case of child abuse. An eight-week-old baby — H.M. — was being treated for a “brain bleed, skull fracture, and bruising to his back and buttock regions.” The baby would later be flown to Denver’s Children’s Hospital, according to court documents.
H.M.’s mother told police that on the morning of Jan. 22, she went to work and left H.M. with MacPherson. When she called MacPherson later that day, he told her that something was wrong with the baby; H.M. was taken to the hospital, where the extensive injuries were discovered.
According to court documents, MacPherson later told police that H.M. was fussy and wouldn’t stop crying while his mother was at work. MacPherson attempted to “force” feed the baby using a bottle, such that formula was spilling from the sides of the baby’s mouth. Several hours later, the baby was still upset, and MacPherson held him. MacPherson pressed the baby against his chest, trying to keep him still.
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After changing H.M.’s diaper, according to court documents, MacPherson set the baby on the couch and then left the room. H.M. fell off the couch, and MacPherson picked him up again.
He then “squeezed HM’s neck very hard against (MacPherson’s) chest,” according to court documents. “On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being ‘trying to pop his head off,’ MacPherson stated that he squeezed HM’s neck at a 7. After being squeezed at this level, HM went limp.”
MacPherson told police he knew something was wrong with the baby at this point. He ran the infant’s head under cold water and then took some snow from outside of the home and rubbed it onto the baby’s neck and head. H.M. continued to be quiet and still.
MacPherson then wrapped the baby in a blanket, put him in a manual bouncer and began playing video games. Sometime later, the baby’s mother called, and H.M. was taken to the hospital.
MacPherson would later test positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine, while the mother tested negative.