Battle Ground man pleads not guilty to harming infant son

Bail is reduced on reports of infant’s improvement

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: February 17, 2012, 5:50 PM

 

A Battle Ground father pleaded not guilty Friday to assaulting his five-month-old son, Carter, after the baby wouldn’t stop fussing.

John I. Stenersen, 29, was arraigned on a charge of second-degree assault of a child. A tentative trial date was set for April 9.

Prosecutors filed two aggravating factors to the charge: they allege the baby’s injuries were significantly more serious than required to prove second-degree assault, a felony, and that the baby was an especially vulnerable victim.

After hearing evidence about how the baby is now doing — fine, and expected to fully recover — Clark County Superior Court Judge Rich Melnick significantly reduced Stenersen’s bail Friday, from $500,000 to $50,000.

At Stenersen’s first appearance last week, prosecutors said Carter’s injuries were life-threatening.

However, on Friday, Melnick heard from the baby’s mother that the infant had had a neurological exam, which appeared fine, though he required some stitches.

Battle Ground police said Stenersen was watching Carter on Feb. 9 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’s head fell backward as he landed in Stenersen’s lap, 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. to treat the baby. Carter was rushed to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and later transported to Randall’s Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

In an interview with investigators, Stenersen said he “didn’t know why I would do such a thing,” according to court documents.

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