Man accused of breaking infant son's ribs bound over to circuit court on child abuse charges
Courtesy of WCSO
A 28-year-old Pittsfield Township man accused of breaking several of his then 2-month-old son's ribs was bound over to circuit court Friday on three first-degree child abuse charges.
Testimony from a doctor and a police detective at a preliminary examination in the 15th District Court Friday suggested Briton Morrison squeezed his infant son too hard and fractured seven ribs.
The now 3-month-old boy is doing fine and remains with Child Protective Services, according to prosecutors.
Pittsfield police Det. James Maudlin testified Morrison confessed that he sometimes lost his temper and may have squeezed the baby too hard unintentionally while trying to get him to go to the bathroom. Morrison became emotional during his confession and said he was overwhelmed with fatherhood and wished he'd taken parenting classes, Maudlin said.
Dr. Bethany Mohr, the medical director for the Child Protection Team at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, testified the infant had an unusually high amount of antacid in his system. Mohr also said the broken ribs were clear signs of child abuse.
Judge Joseph Burke bound Morrison over on all three original charges despite a request from Morrison's attorney, Assistant Washtenaw County Public Defender Christopher Renna, for a bind over on only one second-degree charge. Renna argued the prosecution didn't have enough proof that Morrison intended to injure the baby.
Morrison was arraigned on the charges in October after an X-ray of the infant revealed the broken bones and police were sent to Mott hospital to investigate.
Mohr said the baby was first brought to the emergency room on Oct. 15. Test results revealed he had 75 milligrams of Zantac in his system.
"(It's) a large dose. It's not something we'd give a baby that age," said Mohr. "He had X-rays done and numerous fractures were found."
Mohr, who also is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan, testified there was a bruise on the baby's neck and that the piece of skin connecting the upper lip to the gums was torn.
Since a 2-month-old baby cannot walk or roll over on its own, these types of injuries were suspicious, which is why the Child Abuse Team was called in, Mohr said.
"(The rib fractures) typically occur from some type of trauma," she added. "Somebody else would have to be involved. The injuries were a result of physical abuse. Any ... person would not accidentally break their baby's bones."
Police from Pittsfield Township, where Morrison and the baby's mother Mira Dressel reside, were dispatched to the hospital to investigate. The alleged child abuse is said to have occurred at the couple's apartment in the 3100 block of Woodland Hills.
Maudlin said he interviewed Dressel who indicated that "if there was physical abuse, it was inflicted by the father."
Morrison was taken into custody at the hospital and taken to the police department for questioning, Maudlin testified.
"He was upset," Maudlin said. "He said he had no idea why (we) wanted to talk to him. He said he had no idea about the condition of (the baby)."
Maudlin said during police questioning, Morrison told officers he wasn't getting any sleep because he worked a midnight shift. By the time he got home from work, he'd only get two hours of sleep and then have to get up to take care of his son, who was suffering from constipation.
Maudlin testified that Morrison told investigators he chewed up antacid tablets, spit them in a water bottle and fed it to the infant to soothe the baby's stomach. Morrison also broke into tears and said that he would never intentionally hurt his son and that he wished he had taken parenting classes, according to Maudlin.
When Morrison was asked if he was too rough with his infant son, Maudlin testified that Morrison confessed that maybe he was.
Morrison stood mute on the charges and a not-guilty plea was entered for him. He is being held at the Washtenaw County Jail on a $200,000 cash bond. A pretrial hearing before Judge David Swartz in the Washtenew County Trial Court is scheduled for Jan. 17.