A 3-month-old Gillette boy taken to the emergency room Saturday was found to have 26 rib fractures and five broken bones in his legs, leading to the arrest of his father on 31 counts of alleged aggravated child abuse.
Tyler Bryan Martinson, 28, of Gillette was arrested Monday morning for allegedly causing the injuries to his 3-month-old son. Aggravated child abuse carries a maximum prison penalty of 25 years on each count.
The worst fracture was to the child’s upper femur, according to court documents.
The boy's parents had taken him to the emergency room because he was crying and "inconsolable," and a popping sound from his ribs when he breathed worried them. His right leg also wasn't moving.
Tests showed that the baby had "multiple bilateral posterior breaks to his ribs that were in various stages of healing," according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case. "These breaks showed they were in three different stages of healing."
He child also had a 45-degree angle break to his right femur along with a break to the end of the femur by his kneecap. There were two breaks in his right tibia by his ankles. He also had a break to his left femur by his kneecap, the affidavit said.
The emergency room physician told police that his injuries came from "high speed brute force" trauma like extreme squeezing or shaking the baby. She compared the amount of force necessary to create the injuries to that of a vehicle accident.
The infant was flown to University of Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, for treatment of his injuries.
Martinson had been alone with the baby the night before while the baby's mother worked, according to the affidavit.
Martinson told police that he thought the boy had a bowel obstruction in the middle of the night. He "was pushing on his legs, trying to help him poop because it helped last time," he told authorities. "I must have gone to(o) hard."
A detective asked if he thought he was pushing into the child's ribs as he pushed on his legs. Martinson replied that he thought he was pushing into the boy's stomach and that the baby grunted as Martinson pushed, according to the affidavit.
Martinson told police that he had noticed that he was not as gentle as he should have been with the baby because he has never had children before. He described an instance about two weeks before when he picked up the baby and left bruises on him.
He was asked if he might have picked him up too tightly that night and cracked his ribs.
"It's hard to say," Martinson said, according to the affidavit. "I might have, because I have in the past. I just wasn't as gentle as I thought I was being with him."
About 10 days earlier, Martinson said he saw bruises on the baby's chest where his thumbs had pressed into him and knew that he had gone too far, according to the affidavit.
At the local hospital, police noted four bruises on the baby's chest and one on his back consistent with fingertips.
At Children's Hospital, the baby also was found to have extra fluid around his brain and an elevated liver enzyme level that is indicative of trauma, according to the affidavit.
The injuries to the child's lower legs would be caused by "pulling or yanking" and the other injuries would come from "very forceful handling," according to the affidavit. The doctor diagnosed them as child abuse.
At Martinson's initial appearance Tuesday, Circuit Judge Paul Phillips said he thought Martinson posed a significant flight risk, especially because of a potentially long prison sentence.
The alleged abuse happened over time and was not merely a one-time impulsive action, Phillips said, adding "that factor weighs heavily against the defendant."
The court set Martinson's bond at $100,000 cash or surety. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 4 p.m. Jan. 12 to determine if there is probable cause to bind Martinson over to District Court for trial.
The maximum penalties for aggravated child abuse is 25 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count.