Crime

Warrant issued for Kennewick man charged with abusing 2-month-old stepson

A 21-year-old Kennewick man is wanted for allegedly abusing a baby, causing bleeding on the brain and multiple broken bones.

The no-bail warrant was issued this week after Zak L. Wilding failed to appear in Benton County Superior Court on the new case.

He was sent a summons earlier this month notifying him of the hearing Wednesday.

Wilding is charged with second-degree assault of a child with domestic violence. The charge includes the aggravating circumstances of victim vulnerability.

The allegations date to November 2015, when the 2-month-old was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland with various injuries.

Wilding reportedly found out the week before that the baby was not his biological son. He initially denied knowing how the infant was hurt, then admitted he didn’t mean to hurt his stepson, court documents show.

His wife, Kelcee Taggart, told Kennewick police that she went to work at 1 p.m., and left the baby and his 1-year-old brother in the care of another person for five hours. She said the baby did not have any marks or bruising and was not crying when she dropped him off, documents said.

The babysitter then gave the baby to Wilding at 6 p.m. When Taggart came home after 11 p.m., Wilding reportedly got up off the couch and handed her the infant, then went to bed.

I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to hurt him that bad. I didn’t mean to hurt him at all.

Zak L. Wilding’s police statement

Wilding told her the boy “has been crying for three (expletive) hours,” court documents said.

Taggart noted that her younger son was crying, was bleeding from the mouth and had a cut and bruise on the top of his head, documents said. She was encouraged by a friend to take the baby to the emergency room, but decided to wait and see how he did overnight.

The mother went to Kadlec the next day over concerns about her son’s incessant crying. A registered nurse called police.

In addition to the head injury, the boy also had a broken wrist, bruising in his mouth and previously broken ribs that were starting to heal, documents said.

The baby had to be flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane for treatment. He reportedly recovered from the injuries.

Wilding claimed that he became overwhelmed while watching the infant for several hours, and grabbed the boy “under the armpits and applied pressure with his palms,” court documents said.

He allegedly admitted knowing he wasn’t supposed to hold a baby that way.

Wilding said he screamed at the boy and held him tightly against his chest, documents said.

Asked how the infant got the head injury, Wilding initially said the boy could have hit his head on a piece of wood on the couch after Wilding fell asleep, court documents said.

“I honestly can’t tell you how he got that on his head,” he claimed. He then said he accidentally “smacked” the boy’s head on the air conditioner when he got up.

Wilding said the bruises on the baby’s back were likely caused by him squeezing the boy, documents said. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to hurt him that bad. I didn’t mean to hurt him at all.”

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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