Richland man charged with abusing 6-month-old daughter

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldMarch 28, 2014 

A Richland man has been charged with abusing his 6-month-old daughter and causing significant head and leg injuries while he was watching the baby for 3 1/2 hours.

Evan Wayne Sullivan, 29, told detectives that the girl already had a "bleeding cut" inside her mouth and was acting fussy when she was dropped off at his home last May.

However, investigators noted that the timeline reportedly changed during Sullivan's interview, with the father later saying he didn't notice a cut on the baby's lip until after she awoke from a nap.

Doctors in Richland and Spokane found that the injuries were not accidental.

Sullivan pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to second-degree assault of a child with a domestic violence allegation.

His trial is scheduled June 16.

According to court documents, the baby did not have any injuries before being taken to her father's house by her mother, Gabrielle Gingrich.

That was at 3:30 p.m. May 5. Gingrich returned about 7 p.m. and noticed a little blood on the girl's tongue. She asked Sullivan what happened and he replied that the baby "cut her lip," documents said.

Back at home in Benton City, the baby was acting upset and Gingrich thought it was because she was teething, so she gave the girl some medication to help.

Gingrich then took her daughter into the bedroom to check for any injuries and found a bruise on the side of the baby's head above the ear and another on the back of the head, court documents said.

The mother then took the child to the emergency room at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. The treating physician discovered a skull fracture in the area of the bruising, and "determined the injuries were not caused accidentally and were likely malicious in nature," documents said.

Richland police were called to the hospital.

Gingrich gave a timeline of the day's events to officers, who also took pictures of the dark, purple bruises on the baby.

Court documents said because of the skull fracture and the lack of pediatric neurosurgeons in the Tri-City area, the baby was flown to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane for further treatment.

A Richland detective and a Child Protective Service worker met with Gingrich the following day and she gave a summary that reportedly was consistent with her previous statement.

Dr. Michelle Messner, a child abuse consultant for the hospital, was assigned to care for the baby and told the detective the injuries were the result of abuse for multiple reasons. The main reason for Messner's initial opinion was "the lack of anyone claiming that the child had an accidental fall or similar event," documents said.

At the same time, detectives in Richland made contact with Sullivan.

The father said it had been hot out and he'd thought his daughter's mouth may have been chapped, causing the bleeding cut, court documents said.

He placed the baby on a play mat because she continued to be fussy, then picked her up to change her shirt after she spit up, documents said. The father told detectives he "bounced" the girl for a while before putting her back on the floor.

The baby finally fell asleep, so Sullivan said he put her in a playpen in his bedroom. She slept for about 30 minutes before she started crying, he told police.

Sullivan said he noticed the cut on the baby's lip when he got her out of the playpen. He returned his daughter to the playpen, but she wouldn't stop fussing, court documents said.

In addition to the skull fracture, medical reports show the girl also suffered a fracture of the tibia, or shinbone, which the Spokane doctor also said is "indicative of abuse," documents said.

The girl now is 1 year and 5 months old. Her updated condition is not known.

Sullivan is out of custody on his personal recognizance and is allowed to travel throughout Washington. He was ordered to have no contact with his daughter while the case is pending.

w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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