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A Brewer man charged with manslaughter in the death of his infant son pleaded not guilty during his arraignment at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Tuesday.
Ronald Harding, 36, was charged in the death of his son Jaden early last month after he called 911 on Memorial Day to report that the 6-week-old child was unresponsive and not breathing.
The infant was brought to Northern Light Eatern Maine Medical Center in Bangor in critical condition and was pronounced dead a day later. Hospital staff found that he had a significant brain injury that was “likely inflicted,” according to an affidavit. He showed signs of bleeding in various parts of his brain.
Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin told Superior Court Justice William Anderson that the baby died from being shaken violently. She also said that the infant’s mother saw what happened to the baby while in his father’s care.
Harding was said to have been handed a “a happy, cooing baby” only 15 minutes before the infant’s death, a prosecutor said last month. He denied involvement in his son’s death when speaking to police after the incident and said he was unsure how Jaden would have been shaken violently.
Harding has made his bail, set at $3,000 earlier this month, defense attorney Will Ashe said Tuesday.
Harding does not have a criminal history. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 for manslaughter.
A status conference in the case was set for October. A trial is not expected to be held before next year due to the tremendous backlog of criminal cases stemming from the curtailment of court activities during the pandemic.
Jaden’s death was the first of three deaths of young children last month in which parents have been charged. 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.
Just days after Jaden’s 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. The Maine Medical Examiner’s Office determined he died from multiple blunt force trauma that was inflicted non-accidentally.