An 18-year-old father has been accused of injuring his then-5-week-old baby and not providing her immediate medical attention.
A Juneau grand jury indicted Hoonah resident Michael T. Williams on Friday. He is facing one felony count of third-degree assault and one misdemeanor count of fourth-degree assault.
Prosecutors say Williams ultimately admitted to squeezing the infant and causing injuries to her face. Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp described the injuries in court as “significant,” adding the baby had bruising on her face and eye. The baby, who was born on Dec. 13, 2012, received medical attention several days after the Jan. 17 incident, she alleged.
Williams, on the other hand, said the injuries were a result of an accident — he said he almost dropped the baby, but grabbed her before she fell. He accidently squeezed her too hard when he was catching her, he told a magistrate in court after being arrested in Hoonah on Saturday, according to court documents.
The mother of the child also could not be reached for comment by press time.
The allegation of intentionally or knowingly injuring the child is not encompassed in either of the two charges Williams is facing. Rather, both charges allege that Williams “did recklessly cause physical injury” to the child. The felony assault charge contains the additional element that says the injury “would cause a reasonable caregiver to seek medical attention from a health care professional in the form of diagnoses or treatment.”
Third-degree assault is a class ‘C’ felony that can carry up to five years in prison. Fourth-degree assault is a class ‘A’ misdemeanor that can carry up to a year in prison.
Williams pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Louis Menendez. The judge scheduled a jury trial to take place this summer in July.
Williams’ attorney Assistant Public Defender Timothy Ayer declined to comment on the case, but Williams’ father said in a phone interview that his son is innocent. Mike Williams, 39, said that the baby’s bruising was consistent with his son’s story, but the family of his son’s girlfriend “blew it out of proportion” and wanted to press charges since they don’t like his son.
“It ain’t fair at all, not at all,” the elder Williams said. “They’re taking stuff out on him.”
The father added that his son was being “railroaded” by the police chief in Hoonah, saying the chief promised his son that charges would be dropped if he admitted it was an accident.
Hoonah Police Chief Kelly Swihart could not be reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
Williams is currently being held in custody in lieu of $5,000 cash performance bond. Ayer told the judge he will likely request a bail hearing in the next few days.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.