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Pa. man enters not guilty plea in infant son's death

January 13, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County, Pa., man charged with criminal homicide in the November death of his infant son entered a not guilty plea Wednesday in Franklin County Court and was scheduled to have his case heard in the March trial term.

Shane Michael Barrett, 23, formerly of 5261 Buchanan Trail East, was charged by Washington Township Police in the death of his 3-month-old son Kaden Michael Barrett, who was declared dead on Nov. 18 at Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center. The cause of death was battered child syndrome, according to Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner.

Barrett, who was released on bail on Dec. 3 and has since moved to Chambersburg, Pa., also was charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

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Barrett did not appear before a judge Wednesday, but signed a waiver of his mandatory arraignment and entered the not guilty plea, according to Assistant Public Defender Jeremiah Zook. His next scheduled court appearance is Feb. 28.

Police allege Barrett tossed the child face-down to the floor from knee level on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 17, and that the child suffered other injuries in the days leading up to his death.

That afternoon Barrett called 911 from his Zullinger, Pa., apartment to report that the infant was unresponsive, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Police said Barrett told them he heard his son making a gurgling sound and a few minutes later found him lying on his back in the living room with a blank expression on his face.

According to the affidavit, Barrett told police that on Thursday, Nov. 11, he was 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 he told them "he might have also dropped the infant on the back of his head while changing a diaper" on Tuesday, Nov. 16, or Wednesday, Nov. 17, the affidavit states.

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 states.

McGovern also saw discoloration and an indentation on the child's forehead, the affidavit states.

During later questioning at Hershey, police allege Barrett admitted to tossing the child to the floor on Nov. 17. Barrett told police he did not mean to harm his son and "it just happened out of the spite of the moment," according to the affidavit.

Kaden Barrett's mother, Kristen Heckman of Fayetteville, Pa., told police she noticed bruises on the child's head and arms on Wednesday, Nov. 10, the affidavit states.

A charge of criminal homicide can include a range of crimes from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter, according to Pennsylvania law. Public Defender Michael Toms and Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson both said last month that the death of Kaden Barrett did not appear to be a first-degree murder case.

Conviction on a first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence.

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