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Man charged with beating, starving son

April 03, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

A Hagerstown man charged with starving, neglecting and beating up his 2-year-old son was being held in the Washington County Detention Center on $300,000 bond Monday.

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Donald Lee Kennedy, 29, of 12307 Learning Lane, was charged with first- and second-degree assault, child abuse-parent and reckless endangerment. He denied the charges to authorities.

The boy, Joshua Matthew Howlett, is in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore with bleeding on both sides of his brain, according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum.

"I spoke with the doctor Monday morning and he said the child has been starved, neglected and beaten up," Lochbaum said at a bond hearing in Washington County District Court Monday.

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Kennedy's attorney, however, said his client was a loving father.

"We have a different story of what happened," said Gordon Lynn. "This is not a child abuse case. He has always appeared to be a caring and loving father."

Lynn asked that bond be lowered to $50,000.

The child was taken to Washington County Hospital by Williamsport Ambulance at 12:15 a.m. March 27 after his father called 911, saying Joshua had fallen out of bed, court records said.

Dr. Thomas Gilbert, attending physician at the hospital that morning, said Joshua had a skull fracture at the back of his right ear, bruising on his mouth and chin, old and new bruising on forehead, old bruising on left eye, new bruising on right eye, and retinal hemorrhaging to both eyes, court records said.

The doctor also said Joshua had abrasions and bruising to his right inner ear and blood behind the left eardrum, possibly caused by "boxing of the head," court records said.

The child had abrasions to the back of both knees and legs and new bruises to the left chest, possibly caused by CPR compressions, court records said.

Gilbert told Washington County Sheriff's Investigator Kenneth Cain that in his opinion, the injuries were "100 percent child abuse."

A doctor at Hopkins who examined Joshua told deputies the injuries were consistent with hand slaps, beatings and vigorous shaking, and that his weight - 22 pounds - was low for a child his age.

Cain first spoke with Kennedy at the hospital shortly after the child was admitted and noticed alcohol on his breath, court records said. Kennedy told him he had had three beers.

The child's mother, Lisa Howlett, told Cain that Kennedy watches Joshua and his twin brother, Jason, while she works, court records said.

Kennedy told Lisa Howlett he put the boys to bed at 9 p.m. and at 9:30, he went in and found Joshua on the floor. He wasn't breathing so Kennedy said he began CPR, called 911 and notified family members.

After questioning by deputies, Kennedy admitted raising his voice to Joshua because he wouldn't go to sleep but denied striking the child, court records said.

The other twin, Jason, was removed from the home Monday after a hearing in Washington County Circuit Court, according to Lynn.

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