Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dad pleads not guilty to seriously abusing 19-month-old child (McDonough County, Illinois)

Dad is identified as TRAVIS HAMMOND. What happened to this child's mother? No mention of her.

Father pleads not guilty on charges over infant’s serious injuries

By Jackie Smith
Posted Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

MACOMB — The rural Bushnell man accused of seriously injuring his infant child appeared in McDonough County court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to felony charges.

County sheriff's detectives were dispatched to McDonough District Hospital Jan. 16 after a 16-month-old was reported to have serious head injuries. The child was airlifted to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria that day for further treatment. After a week of investigation, Travis S. Hammond, 37, was arrested Jan. 23 in connection to the incident and the "suspicious injuries" sustained.

On Wednesday, McDonough County Sheriff's Detective Billie McDonald testified he responded to MDH Jan. 16, and had participated in many of the ensuing investigation's interviews and was well familiar of the investigation in its entirety. While at MDH, he said he spoke with an EMT and a physician on site, and that it was ascertained the injured child had a brain bleed and was in stable, but critical condition.

"Based on what (the physician) observed, he believed the child had been shaken violently," McDonald told State's Attorney James Hoyle.

At that point on Jan. 16, Chief Deputy Justin Lundgren and Detective Mike Pilat were called, and they spoke with Hammond. The two would later question Hammond during an interview at the sheriff's office, while McDonald interviewed Hammond's daughter.

Hammond at both occasions had apparently pointed to the same incidents in which the infant had fallen, seized or was affected by asthma. The 37-year-old also reportedly described to detectives an incident when he'd smacked the infant on the back multiple times because he thought the infant was choking.

All of it, McDonald testified Wednesday, Hammond referenced as possible causes of the infant's injuries.

Several days after the infant was taken to OSF, Detectives Pilat and Nick Petitgout had returned to Peoria to check the minor's condition, learning the 16-month-old had more serious injuries. McDonald recalled reports of doctors informing the two detectives the infant had two brain bleeds — one acute and one chronic — with hemorrhaging behind the eyes.

"This was from repeated abuse," McDonald said. "It was definitely blunt-force trauma."

Other details

McDonald said detectives also interviewed Hammond's girlfriend, who recounted discovering the infant unconscious in a vehicle Jan. 16, her insisting to Hammond on calling 911, and the two driving toward the Good Hope junction to meet emergency crews and get the infant to MDH.

"As they're going," McDonald said, "(she reported that) he said, 'I hope they don't take me to jail.' "

Hammond was also apparently questioned why he hadn't already called 911 and that he'd responded — first that he couldn't find his phone and later that it was off.

Pilat later interviewed an 8-year-old who lives in the same residence as the injured infant, McDonald testified, and the young girl told him she'd once heard Hammond go into a nearby room, then a crash that wasn't the door slamming and the infant soon after crying, as well as witness him hold up and shake the infant back and forth.

McDonald also testified from reports that the night of Jan. 15 Hammond instigated an argument and threatened to fight an old friend whose trailer he was going to borrow, which was the incident prior to the 8-year-old witnessing Hammond go into a nearby room where the infant cried, and how this friend told detectives he'd never seen Hammond act in such a manner.

Hammond reportedly admitted he'd injured the infant Jan. 23. McDonald described the event to Hoyle where during an interview when Hammond appeared to break down.
"Travis began to shake and cry (and) say, 'I did it,'" McDonald said.

In cross examination, McDonald confirmed that Hammond had been questioned multiple times, how he wasn't present at every single interview himself and that the interviews weren't always recorded on either video or audio.

"So you don't know how the injuries were inflicted at all?" Public Defender John Carter asked of McDonald Wednesday.

"I don't," the detective responded.

"Or when?"

"I have a belief, not an exact (time)."

McDonald additionally confirmed that the confession interview was not recorded and there was no written statement.

But in the early morning hours of Jan. 23, McDonald said he'd gotten a message from Hammond's daughter: "Bill, will you please call me?"

At OSF, Hammond had taken pills and was seen flipping the infant repeatedly, asking where signs of the infant's injuries were. Hammond later stated he didn't remember the incident.

McDonald testified Hammond had made mention of an incident three years prior when he was hit in the head with a sledge hammer while in Detroit, Mich., and that since he had other back-out experiences where he did something he didn't remember.

Hammond is facing two counts of felony charges — aggravated battery (of a child), a Class X felony punishable between six and 30 years in prison, as well as aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony publishable by up to seven years. Both can result in a fine up to $25,000.

After the 37-year-old pleaded not guilty, a pretrial conference was set for March.