Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Potential plea agreement for dad charged with 1st-degree muder in death of 5-week-old son (Putnam County, South Carolina)

We've reported on this case before. Yet another case where a violent, controlling father had just separated from the mother, yet was still provided with access to a newborn baby. Bad move.

Whether this was court-ordered access or not has not been clarified as far as I know. But the father clearly had a previous criminal record (domestic battery conviction, child neglect charges) that should have prevented him from having access of any kind, especially for a baby this young. Subsequent events even further demonstrate that this father was violent, mentally unstable, and a pathological liar.

Earlier accounts say he even spoke to the mother on the phone during this 27 hour period, yet still chose to say nothing about the dead baby. Pretty sick dude...

Dad is identified as ROBERT JEREMY SMITH.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Life with mercy recommended for Hurricane father accused in infant’s death

By Andrea Lannom, Legal affairs writer

A Putnam County father cried as he told the judge he failed to get emergency care after his 5-week-old son, Madden Smith, stopped breathing.

Robert Jeremy Smith, 34, of Hurricane, appeared for a Thursday plea hearing before Putnam County Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder. Smith, who was charged with the murder of his infant son, pleaded guilty to murder of a child by parent by refusal to supply necessities.

In a hearing last month, attorneys announced they had reached a potential plea agreement but weren’t ready to announce the terms of it just yet. They set the hearing for Thursday to either move forward with the agreement, or present their pretrial motions in preparation for his July trial.

Smith was charged with first-degree murder, murder of a child, failure to render medical aid and child abuse causing death.

The criminal complaint said Smith had been caring for his son in his Hurricane home when he heard him crying on the floor of the bedroom.

When he picked him up, he lost grip and the infant “fell to the floor and was gasping for air,” the criminal complaint said.

Smith didn’t feel a pulse, wrapped the baby in a blanket but didn’t call 911 because he was afraid he would get in trouble, according to the allegations in the criminal complaint. He didn’t notify anyone of the death for 27 hours.

Police said Smith admitted to shaking his son but only after he was asked.Police found the infant in a car in Kanawha City. Smith was near the vehicle with what detectives said were self-inflicted cuts to his throat and neck. The criminal complaint alleged Smith told police when he exited his car, “The baby is dead, I killed the baby.” Paramedics rushed Smith to Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Hospital.

“On May of 2014, in Hurricane, of Putnam County, my son stopped breathing,” Smith told the judge Thursday, pausing several times. “And he needed emergency medical care and I failed to provide it for him.”

Reeder asked if he failed to provide this care intentionally. Smith paused for several seconds, crying, and Reeder once again addressed him.

“Yes, your honor,” he responded.

He could face life in prison when he is sentenced at 9 a.m. Aug. 14. However, prosecutors are recommending mercy, which means he can see the parole board after serving 15 years.

After the hearing, assistant Putnam Prosecutor Kris Raynes, explained there were different theories in the indictment for the cause of the infant’s death.

“The count that the defendant pled to today, one of the theories is that he caused the death of this child and failed to get medical help for him. That, in itself, carries with it a life imprisonment but had we gone to trial, we had other evidence to show that it was more than an accident,” Raynes said.

“What he pled to today, his failure to get medical care for his son was a malicious cause of his death and that was his choice. He chose to protect himself rather than to get care for his son.”

Police initially said the infant appeared to have multiple skull fractures but Raynes said this was a preliminary finding.

“Babies’ skulls are very pliable,” Raynes said. “There were numerous positions of bleeding on the brain and in the baby’s head that was consistent with abuse but the fact that this all led up to the baby’s death and his failure for more than 24 hours to seek any kind of medical care was what he pled to today, which is the same penalty as first-degree murder.”

Police also said the baby had an abrasion on his forehead. Raynes said there was a hammer with blood on it found at the home but the medical examiner later determined the hammer was not used to harm the child.

“Even though it was striking how closely it matched the diameter of an abrasion on the baby’s forehead, it was determined that that was not used through lab evidence and also the opinion by the medical examiner that that was not used,” Raynes said.