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Parents of a 10-week-old baby await arraignment in Juneau Superior Court on felony assault charges after the infant allegedly was taken off an oxygen machine during a brawl between the parents at the Driftwood Lodge last month.
Brian Bevelhymer, 35, was arrested Feb. 18 and charged by police with first-degree assault and second-degree assault, both felonies, and fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. A Juneau grand jury indicted him on those charges last week.
The grand jury also indicted the baby's mother, Eleanor Kaye, 41, on a first-degree assault charge, citing "extreme indifference to the value of human life, to wit: Interfering with medical care."
First-degree assault is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Sue McLean declined to comment about the charge against Kaye, and court documents did not say why she was charged. Information about grand jury decisions is not public record.
The prosecutors, however, set out in an affidavit their understanding of the facts of the case against Bevelhymer:
Police received a call about 10:39 p.m. Feb. 18, from someone at the Driftwood Lodge stating that a man was throwing things from a second-floor balcony. When police arrived, they found Bevelhymer in the parking lot, highly intoxicated. He told police officer Jason Van Sickle that he destroyed a machine that gives his baby oxygen because the device "was beeping."
Van Sickle went to the couple's room and found Kaye and the then 7-week-old baby. Kaye told police the baby, born prematurely, couldn't breathe without the machine because his lungs were underdeveloped.
She told police that Bevelhymer slapped her multiple times in the face and struck her repeatedly on the back of the head with the baby's monitor after he disconnected it.
Kaye told police that she lay on the bed, over the baby, to protect him as Bevelhymer continued to assault her.
Bevelhymer then threw the monitor off the balcony, destroying it, the affidavit said. He came back into the room. Kaye was in the bathroom. She said when she came out, he was slapping the infant in the face. She said he threw the baby at her. The baby's forehead struck Kaye's chin after he was thrown about 6 feet across the room, the affidavit said.
By the end of the brawl, the baby had been without oxygen for more than an hour, the affidavit said.
Police Capt. Tom Porter told the Empire the baby was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital and put in the custody of the state Division of Family and Youth Services. The baby is still in the hospital, Porter said.
According to court records, an emergency room doctor who treated the infant said the baby had bruising on his face, sustained a concussion and had hypoxia, or low oxygen level. The doctor also said the lack of oxygen could have killed the baby and may have caused brain damage.
Porter said Monday if the baby's condition changes for the worse or if he sustained lasting repercussions, such as brain damage, from the assault, the charges against the parents would be amended.
Porter said police did not charge Kaye following the incident because they still were investigating. He said it is possible that Family and Youth Services provided the grand jury with information that the police had not developed.
"As an educated guess, if she had been drinking, witnessed him hitting the child and did nothing to stop him, the grand jury might see that as enough reason to indict her," Porter said.
Melanie Plenda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.