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The Brewer father charged with manslaughter in the death of his 6-week-old son told police that the boy put his head back, stuck his tongue out and went limp in his arms just before he stopped breathing on Memorial Day.
While prosecutors have said the infant was violently shaken, Ronald Harding, 36, denied shaking his son, Jaden, according to the police affidavit unsealed Thursday, the day after Harding was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury.
The affidavit offers more details on the first of three killings of young Maine children within three weeks last month, allegedly by parents.
Harding is scheduled to be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. He is expected to plead not guilty.
At the time of the baby’s death, Harding lived with the baby’s mother on Getchell Road in Brewer.
Harding called 911 the evening of Memorial Day, May 31, to report that his infant was unresponsive and not breathing, according to Maine State Police. The boy was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in critical condition and died the next day, on June 1.
He and the boy’s mother told Maine State Police detectives that on Memorial Day the family went to Newport and spent the afternoon at Harding’s mother’s house. When they returned home at about 6 p.m., the mother carried the sleeping boy, who was in his car seat, into their Brewer home, the affidavit said.
The boy’s mother allegedly told detectives that she held Jaden for a few minutes before handing him to Harding. The baby’s eyes were open and he was smiling and cooing at her before she went to give baths to her other children, she told police.
About 20 minutes later, Jaden went limp and Harding took him to the bathroom where the boy’s mother was bathing the other children, who are not related to Harding, the court document said. She took Jaden while Harding called 911.
She told detectives that while she was in the bathroom, she heard Jaden crying but she let Harding tend to the boy rather than intervene. She described it as a “normal baby cry,” the affidavit said.
Harding denied shaking his son and causing his injuries.
The medical examiner found that the baby died of bleeding in his brain of inflicted injuries consistent with violent shaking.
Harding remains free on $3,000 cash bail. Conditions include having no contact with Jaden’s mother or any children under the age of 12, not possessing dangerous weapons and a curfew that bars him from being out between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless he must be gone overnight for work.
If convicted, Harding faces up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000.
Just days after Harding allegedly shook Jaden to death, Hillary Goding was charged with manslaughter in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Hailey, in Old Town. Prosecutors have not released the girl’s cause of death.
On June 20, 3-year-old Maddox Williams died at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. His mother, Jessica Trefethen, is charged with murder in his death. The Maine Medical Examiner’s Office determined he died from multiple blunt force trauma that was inflicted non-accidentally.
The boy had suffered a fractured spine, bruises on his arms, legs, belly and head, bleeding in his brain, a ruptured bowel and other injuries, according to court documents.
The three deaths, along with the death of another young child in Temple from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, have focused new scrutiny on Maine’s child welfare system that was under similar scrutiny three years ago following the deaths of 4-year-old Kendall Chick and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy at the hands of their caregivers.