Battle Ground man accused of seriously assaulting baby son

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A Battle Ground man is accused of assaulting his 4½-month-old son because he wouldn’t stop crying, causing the baby to have injuries that police say are life-threatening.

John I. Stenersen, who turns 29 Saturday, made his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court Friday on suspicion of first-degree assault of a child.

In requesting $500,000 bail, Deputy Prosecutor Mike Dodds said the baby had suffered a fractured skull and a hematoma in the alleged Thursday night assault and police aren’t sure the infant will survive.

The baby, Carter, was born Sept. 17. He is in the pediatric intensive care unit at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland. A hospital spokesman had no information on the baby’s condition Friday afternoon.

Judge Rich Melnick set bail at $500,000 and appointed attorney David Kurtz to represent Stenersen.

Battle Ground police said Stenersen was watching Carter at home in the 600 block of Southwest Second Court when Stenersen said he “snapped” because the baby was crying. He allegedly shoved the baby, who was lying on the bedroom floor, causing Carter to hit his head on a wall.

Then, after Stenersen prepared food for his son, he said he threw the fussy infant in the air and “the baby landed in his lap and when he landed, the baby’s head fell backward,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

Stenersen’s wife received a phone call from Stenersen, who told her he was upset and dropped the infant. Stenersen said the baby was not responsive.

Battle Ground police and paramedics were called to the home at 9:30 p.m. Thursday to treat the baby. Carter was rushed to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and later transported to Legacy Emanuel.

In an interview with investigators, Stenersen said he “didn’t know why I would do such a thing. He’s always smiling. … I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“The defendant later told Sgt. (Aaron) Kanooth, who interviewed him, that he was afraid the baby may die and reported further that he had shaken the baby before he tossed him in the air,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

Stenersen’s arraignment is set for Feb. 17.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/col_courts;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.