By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A Hannibal infant sustained two skull fractures, three brain bleeds, and buttocks and vaginal bruising, according to an examination by an emergency room doctor at Hannibal Regional Hospital last Tuesday.
That information was part of a probable cause statement filed in the first-degree assault case against Dustin T. Dye, 29, of Hannibal. He is the boyfriend of the infant's mother, Melinda Britt.
The 7-week-old baby has been in the intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital since she was transported there last Tuesday. The child's name was redacted in the probable cause statement, but Britt referred to her as "Nora" in a Friday interview with WGEM-TV.
Dr. Arham Hussain, an emergency room doctor at Hannibal Regional Hospital, told Detective Jennifer Grote of the Hannibal Police Department that he was unsure if sexual abuse had happened but "was leaving that for Children's in St. Louis to check."
Hussain told Grote the baby was admitted to the hospital with a temperate of 95.1 degrees. He said that usually means either a baby would be coming out of some type of sickness or has head trauma.
Dr. Adrienne Atzemis, a child abuse specialist at Children's Hospital, reported to Hannibal police after an examination on Thursday that the girl's right wrist may have suffered two possible fractures, but doctors were waiting to do more X-rays when she became more stable. Atzemis said the girl had ligament damage to her neck, which was somewhat consistent with shaken baby syndrome, but the girl showed no other typical signs of shaken baby syndrome.
Atzemis said the baby had one large fracture on the left side of her skull. Atzemis told investigators that the baby's labia was bruised, but when it was moved to one side, no injury was shown. Atzemis believed the baby was hit one or more times on the buttocks with a flat or broad surface, adding that it was possible that the baby could have been thrown down on her butt in a seated position.
The section of the probable cause statement involving Atzemis does not mention possible sexual abuse.
Dye was with Britt when the baby was brought to Hannibal Regional Hospital late Tuesday night, but he left the hospital shortly after Britt's mother asked him to leave the room. He took Britt's phone with him.
Britt, 25, told investigators that she left the baby with Dye when she went to work at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at a screen printing business in Hannibal. She claimed Dye told her that he was going to take the baby to visit his grandmother at a Hannibal nursing home. Dye later brought the baby to meet Britt on her lunch break. They were supposed to meet at 7:30 p.m., but he showed up 15 minutes late.
"When I walked over to the car, (the baby) had an irregular cry," Britt told police. "It was soft and weak. I went to get her out of the carseat, and she was very cold to the touch. I said something was wrong because she was so cold.
"Dustin said he was just in an air-conditioned room. I told him the car he was driving did not have air conditioning, and she should be warm due to it being hot out."
Britt told police that Dye told her about an incident with his aunt while he was visiting his grandmother at the nursing home.
"Dustin told me his aunt had him so mad, he was ready to fight someone," Britt said.
Britt told Grote she met Dye in October when she was working at a Hannibal restaurant and he was a customer. They started dating in January. Britt has two children from a previous marriage and shares custody of those children with her ex-husband. She said Dye watched all three of her children "a few times."
Britt said that Dye told her on May 30 that he had dropped the baby, though the report was not specific on which day that happened. Britt said she noticed a bruise on the baby's right butt cheek the next day. Britt said neither of her other children had been injured under Dye's care.
Dye previously was convicted in a felony drug case in 2009. He was sentenced to 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections but received impact incarceration. After 120 days in the program, he was released on March 1, 2010. His probation in that case was revoked, and he was sent back to prison. He was released from prison on Sept. 25, 2013, and now is on parole.
Dye was arrested at 9:13 p.m. Saturday by the Hannibal Police Department at a family member's home in Hannibal.
During an interview with Grote at police headquarters on Saturday, Dye said he went to his grandmother's house and then visited her at the nursing home. He said the baby was hot, so he kept her in the car seat and placed it near an air conditioner at the nursing home. He said he left the nursing home after he got into an argument with his aunt, then went to a friend's house to use his Wi-Fi connection. He said he did not go into the friend's house and did not get the baby out of the car.
Grote wrote in her report that Dye referred to the child as "the baby," which she explained is a way "to disassociate himself from her."
Dye is being lodged in the Marion County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond. Dye is scheduled to be arraigned by Marion County Associate Judge John Jackson via video conference at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Dye has yet to hire an attorney. He was represented by a public defender in his 2009 drug case.
First-degree assault is a Class A felony in Missouri, a more serious charge than attempted murder, a Class B felony. If convicted, Dye could face up to two consecutive life sentences.