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May 22, 2022

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Vancouver father gets 6 years for causing brain trauma in infant

Now 9-month-old had multiple brain bleeds 'consistent with abusive head trauma'

By , Columbian staff writer

A Vancouver man was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for causing brain trauma and other injuries to his infant son in May.

Wesley James Palmer, 32, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to a domestic violence charge of first-degree attempted assault of a child.

Vancouver police were contacted May 31 after the baby’s parents brought him to the PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center emergency room. He was suffering a seizure and not breathing, a doctor said. The baby was transferred to Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Deputy Prosecutor Erik Podorah said Wednesday the child was hospitalized in Portland for about a week and then had to be rehospitalized about two weeks later.

Palmer wept and hung his head as the baby’s mother — who had been holding the now 9-month-old in the courtroom gallery — told the judge of the impact those injuries will likely have on his development.

“My son’s entire bright future was ripped from him, and all my hopes and dreams are now changing to just him walking or saying ‘mommy,’” she said.

Palmer apologized to his son and the boy’s mother, saying “I should’ve been protecting my son, and now I feel I have to protect him from me.”

A CT scan found multiple old and new brain bleeds and that the then 2-month-old had a skull fracture. He also had bruising across his abdomen below the rib line and bleeding in both eyes. The doctor said the baby’s injuries “were consistent with abusive head trauma,” court records state.

The baby’s mother told police she left for work around 10 a.m. May 30, at which time he was conscious, acting normal and crying. She said she left him in Palmer’s care, according to the affidavit.

But about 10 minutes later, Palmer called her frantic, she said, and could not articulate what was wrong. She returned home immediately and saw Palmer holding the baby’s limp body, she said. She tried to rouse the baby, but he was unresponsive, court records state.

Palmer reportedly told her he thought the baby hit his head on a chest as he was removing him from a swing or that he may have set him down too hard. The mother said Palmer had been too rough with the baby in the past, causing bruising, the affidavit says.

Palmer told investigators the baby had been acting normal throughout the morning but was crying. He said he became frustrated by the baby’s crying and did not know how to get him to stop. Palmer then demonstrated on a doll how he picked up the baby from the swing, jerked him toward the bed and threw him down on a changing pad, causing his head to whip side-to-side, according to court records.

He said the baby’s crying immediately ceased, his breathing changed and he lost consciousness, the affidavit states.

Palmer said he threw the baby on the bed on one other occasion and pumped his legs too hard when he was mad, which caused the bruising on the baby’s abdomen, according to the affidavit.

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