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Prosecutor says injured 3-year-old's recovery uncertain

November 02, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - It was still unclear whether a 3-year-old girl whose father is charged with assaulting her will survive her injuries, an assistant Washington County state's attorney said in a court hearing Monday in Hagerstown.

The comments came during a bail review hearing for Scott E. Patterson, 26, of 330 N. Mulberry St., who faces charges in connection with the child's injuries.

Patterson was charged in an arrest warrant last Thursday with first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury, child abuse by a custodian, first- and second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment. He was taken into custody Saturday.

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Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler gave Washington County District Judge Ralph H. France II a brief description of the charges and said that the original description to police was that dresser drawers had fallen on the girl, causing severe injuries.

"That's not, in fact, what happened," Pauler said. She said police now believe that Patterson caused the injuries.

"It's still unclear as to whether that child is going to survive," Pauler said.

Pauler said Patterson had one previous conviction in 2000 for marijuana possession.

Patterson was not in court Monday, but he appeared via closed-circuit television from the Washington County Detention Center, where he was being held.

During the hearing, Assistant Washington County Public Defender Carl Creeden said Patterson had attended South Hagerstown High School through the ninth grade and works at Bonded Applicators, a local roofing company.

France kept Patterson's bond at $250,000 and set a Nov. 24 preliminary hearing. If probable cause is found for the felony charges at that hearing, the case will be forwarded to Washington County Circuit Court, where Patterson will be eligible for a jury trial.

Hagerstown City Police Detective Shane Blankenship, reached by phone Monday, said he spoke Monday with doctors at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where the girl remains in critical condition.

Blankenship said doctors said the girl remains in a coma and her condition has not improved.

According to the charging documents, Patterson is the girl's biological father. The two have different last names.

Police were called Oct. 26 when the girl was taken to Washington County Hospital. Doctors said she had suffered a severe head injury and found "extensive bruising" on the girl's body. Within hours, she was flown to Children's National Medical Center, according to the charging documents.

Patterson initially told investigators that a small dresser fell on top of his daughter the night before, but he soon changed his story, police said in the documents.

Patterson said he had been smoking marijuana in his home at about 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, and became angry at his daughter when she knocked over a bucket of water he had been using to mop the floor, the documents state. Patterson yelled at his daughter and struck her with an open hand on the buttocks and head, knocking her once to the ground, according to the documents.

Patterson then threw his daughter onto her bed, and her head struck the headboard and a metal bed rail, the documents state. Patterson then punched his daughter in the stomach, after which she apparently passed out, the documents state.

According to the documents, Patterson went to sleep around 2 a.m., and awoke around 1 p.m. on Oct. 26. Patterson bathed his daughter in cold water in an unsuccessful attempt to wake her, and took her to Washington County Hospital, documents state.

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