Court documents offer disturbing details in Spokane infant's death

Court documents are offering more details about a disturbing case of child abuse in Spokane. Investigators arrested 33-year-old Erik Sherman in the death of his baby Thursday. One doctor who witnessed the abuse told investigators in court documents it was "one of the worst cases of child abuse he had seen in 23 years of practice."

According to the documents, the 1-month-old's mother woke up late on the morning of August 5 and didn't find the baby in his crib next to her bed. She went looking for her boyfriend, Sherman, and the baby, and found them in the bathroom with the door partially closed. When she walked in, Sherman told her that the child had suddenly rocked his head forward and hit it on his shoulder causing his mouth to bleed. The baby wasn't able to feed properly after that, and the baby became sick over the next two days. She told investigators she did not take the baby to the hospital or call a doctor, but she did notice bruising on the baby's face.

A couple of days later, Sherman was alone with the infant on the back patio of their house. Sherman told the mother that he had fed the baby with a bottle, then he was burping him when the child stopped breathing. He ran into the house and tried splashing water on the child's face, but it was apparent that he was not breathing. They took the baby to Holy Family Medical Center for treatment.

According to the documents, the child's mother told investigators that she noticed a bruise on the baby's face as well as scratches  on his face, but Sherman told her that the scratches happened because the baby was scratching at himself while in the crib.

An emergency room doctor at Holy Family testified that when the baby arrived in the ER, he was unresponsive. The doctor noticed numerous bruises all over the infant's body and an X-ray revealed the infant had a broken right clavicle. Because of the seriousness of the injuries, the baby was taken by Life Flight helicopter to Sacred Heart Medical Center.

A doctor at Sacred Heart evaluated the infant upon arrival to the hospital and noted "obvious bruising" on his face, right shoulder, between his shoulder blades and elsewhere. The documents say the doctor was concerned that the infant had a "severe life-threatening brain injury." X-rays taken at Sacred Heart confirmed the broken clavicle as well as a broken femur and tibia. The doctor determined there was no possible accidental or natural causes for the injuries the child had received.

Three separate neurological exams were completed on the infant which confirmed a serious brain injury with no brain activity. On August 10, doctors took the baby off life support.

The medical examiner later determined the manner of death was homicide.

In the course of the investigation into the baby's death, investigators interviewed Sherman's 15-year-old daughter. She told investigators that in July she was in her room, which is directly below the baby's room. According to documents, she said back in July she heard Sherman yelling at the baby, saying "he didn't like his attitude," and "that he did not care how old he is. He needs to stop crying." She said the yelling went on for about 45 minutes. She described Sherman as a hot headed person.

Detectives developed probable cause to arrest Sherman on Thursday. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail on a charge of homicide by abuse. He made his first court appearance Friday and is currently being held on $500,000 bond.

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