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Pa. man charged in son's death

November 23, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA. - A Zullinger, Pa., man was charged Monday with criminal homicide in the death last week of his 3-month-old son, who police allege was tossed to the floor in "the spite of the moment," according to the criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause filed with District Justice Larry Pentz's office.

Shane Michael Barrett, 23, of 5261 Buchanan Trail East, also was charged by Washington Township police with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Barrett was jailed without bond at Franklin County Prison, Pentz said.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 2, at 3:30 p.m., at Pentz's office.

Kaden Michael Barrett, of the same address, was declared dead at 10 p.m. Thursday at Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, according to Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner. An autopsy was performed Sunday morning at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown, Pa.

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Conner said Monday the cause of death was listed as battered child syndrome and the manner of death was homicide.

Shane Barrett called 911 at about 4:30 p.m. last Wednesday, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Police said Barrett reported hearing his son make a gurgling sound and a few minutes later found him lying on his back in the living room, unresponsive and with a blank look on his face.

According to the affidavit, Barrett told police that on Thursday, Nov. 11, he had been carrying Kaden when he tripped on a shoestring and the child struck his head on the molding around a door.

Police spoke with Barrett again at Hershey Medical Center and said "he might have also dropped the infant on the back of his head while changing a diaper" on Nov. 16 or 17, the affidavit stated.

A physician at Hershey told Michael McGovern, the investigating officer, that "the injuries sustained by Kaden Michael Barrett were not consistent with the version of events provided by Shane Michael Barrett," the affidavit stated.

McGovern also observed discoloration and an indentation of the child's forehead, according to the affidavit.

The child's mother, Kristen Heckman of Fayetteville, Pa., told police that she noticed a bruise on the infant's head and smaller bruises on his upper arms when she returned from work on Wednesday, Nov. 10, according to the affidavit. She said Barrett told her he tripped on a shoelace while carrying the baby, according to the affidavit.

Police spoke with Barrett again at Hershey and he told them that on Monday, Nov. 15, he held the child's mouth shut to stop him from crying, the affidavit alleges. Barrett said that may have caused bruising around the child's jaw line, it states.

According to the affidavit, Barrett also told police he squeezed the baby's stomach after he began spitting up on Wednesday.

According to allegations in the affidavit, Barrett told police he tossed the baby to the floor from about knee level and the child struck his head as Barrett put him in a swing. Barrett said his chin struck the baby's head as he rocked him in his arms, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit alleged that Barrett told police he was "feeling upset due to the emotional nights I had with him." He told police he did not mean to harm his son and "it just happened out of the spite of the moment," according to allegations in the affidavit.

The funeral for Kaden Barrett is today in Waynesboro.

Barrett is the first person charged with homicide in Franklin County since Nov. 24, 2002, when Bruce B. Forsythe Sr. of Marion, Pa., was charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of his estranged wife, Joanna Plummer. Forsythe pleaded no contest to third-degree murder earlier this year and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.

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