Judge denies bond motion for man accused of scalding 3-year-old in bath water
Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office
Judge Melinda Morris ruled Monday to keep a $50,000 cash bond on a 21-year-old Superior Township man accused of putting a 3-year-old boy in a scalding bath that was so hot some of the boy’s skin came off.
Attorney James Fifelski asked Morris to lower Harvey Savill Wince’s bond to 10 percent of $5,000. Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Blake Hatlem argued the bond should be kept at $50,000 due to the high likelihood of conviction and the severity of the incident.
Morris denied the motion. A trial is set for Nov. 5.
Wince was charged with torture, first-degree child abuse and resisting arrest after the 3-year-old boy he was baby-sitting suffered first-, second- and third-degree burns on more than 20 percent of his body. The boy also was bruised and had bite marks on his arm.
Many of the details were revealed at a preliminary examination in May when the case was bound over to circuit court. The 3-year-old’s mother testified she dropped off her son at Wince’s townhouse on MacArthur Boulevard in Superior Township the morning of March 31.
The woman and boy lived nearby. AnnArbor.com does not identify juvenile victims. The boy’s mother also will not be identified, as it could reveal the identity of the victim.
Wince baby-sat the boy while the mother was at work. She returned at 4:30 p.m. and her son was fine, she testified. The woman then went to check on her father in Ypsilanti and again left her son with Wince. A few hours later, she talked on the telephone with Wince, who said the boy had gotten into a skirmish with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old while playing outside. Wince also told her the boy had vomited, so he had given the boy a bath and that the boy’s skin was red, according to court records.
When the boy’s mother picked him up, she noticed he was burned.
“I saw his feet (were) red, then I got scared and I didn’t know what to do. I was in shock,” she said. “I just saw that his skin was gone. I saw some in the bathroom. (Wince) swept the skin and threw it in the garbage.”
The boy was taken to the hospital and eventually ended up at the University of Michigan Hospital’s intensive burn unit. He was in the hospital from April 1 to May 21, according to court records.
Wince later told police he drew a lukewarm, ankle-deep bath, set the boy in the tub and went into the living room to play the video game “Call of Duty.” He later found the boy standing in the bathroom with “soggy” skin, Wince told police. He alleges the boy must have turned on the hot water himself.
“He said that he pulled the skin off and eventually put it in the trash can,” said Det. Craig Raisanen, who also testified at May’s preliminary examination. Raisanen eventually searched the townhouse and found the skin. He described it as looking like “a surgical glove” in the trash.
Raisanen also used a thermometer to test the heat of the water coming from the bathtub’s faucet, testifying that it got as hot as 120 degrees.
At Monday’s bond motion hearing, Fifelski said Raisanen’s measuring technique was far from perfect.
“The way that the water was measured in this case was dubious,” he said.
Dr. Lisa Markman, assistant clinical professor and associate medical director of the child protection team at Mott’s Children Hospital, treated the boy in the days following the incident. She testified that a child’s skin will burn in temperatures ranging from 120 to 160 degrees.
And the hotter the water, the quicker it happens, she said. Markman testified that since the majority of the boy’s burns were on his legs and buttocks, it’s likely the boy “was forcefully restrained in the water.”
Markman also testified the boy’s bruises probably weren’t from roughhousing with other children as Wince claimed.
“I don’t believe that a 2- and 4-year-old could cause the extensive injuries that were seen to (the boy’s) torso, arm, face and legs,” she said.
When questioned by police, Wince confessed to biting the boy on the arm. While arguing the bond motion, Fifelski described it as “a playful bite.”
Wince, who had a bench warrant out for his arrest on a home invasion charge, was arrested immediately after questioning at the detective bureau of the sheriff’s office. As Raisanen and other officers attempted to handcuff Wince, he began fighting back.
“He began to kick wildly,” Raisanen said, which is why Wince also is being charged with resisting arrest.
Wince continues to be held at the Washtenaw County Jail.