This article originally appeared in BDT.com.
PRINCETON – Serious eye injuries, multiple brain bleeds and fractured bones in various stages of healing that were discovered when a 3-month-old infant was brought to a local hospital has led to his parents being indicted by the Mercer County Grand Jury.
Cory Nelson Hawks, 24, and Bridgette Katrina Hawks, 28, both of Princeton, have each been indicted by the grand jury, according to records released Friday by the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
In both indictments, the grand jury charged that between May 21 and Aug. 16, 2015, Cory Hawks inflicted “serious bodily injury” by “shaking, striking, pushing, and pulling the infant” in a way that caused multiple bone fractures, brain bleeds, and retinal hemorrhaging in his eyes. He was indicted on a charge of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Bridgette Hawks was indicted for child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.
Cory and Bridgette Hawks are the child’s biological parents, according to the report filed by Sgt. M.D. Clemons of the West Virginia State Police Crimes against Children Unit. The case began Aug. 17, 2015, when Clemons was contacted by the state Department of Health and Human Resources about a 3-month-old male infant who was brought to Princeton Community Hospital the previous day by the Princeton Rescue Squad.
Bridgette Hawks called Mercer County 911 at 6:22 a.m. Aug. 16, 2015, to advise that her son had stopped breathing and that her husband had “accidently” fallen on her son, according to Clemons. The infant started having seizures after arriving at PCH and was transferred by ambulance to Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) where more tests were performed.
“An MRI showed that (the baby) had suffered cardiorespiratory arrest, ischemia (blood flow and oxygen going to the heart restricted) and multiple brain bleeds,” Clemons said in the report. “An X-ray revealed old fractures of the right fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs, a right femur fracture, and a right radius fracture. All of the fractures were in various stages of healing.”
An examination of the infant’s eyes “indicated retinal hemorrhages which are indicative of ‘shaken baby syndrome.’ Consultation reports from Charleston Area Medical Center indicated by child abuse was definitive,” Clemons stated.
Clemons contacted the infant’s treating physician, who had seen the same injuries on him. The doctor said that the injuries “were not consistent with the father’s explanation that he had tripped over the cat while holding (the infant).” The doctor also stated that the injuries were consistent with shaking.
After an interview, Bridgette Hawks advised Clemons that she would be willing to take a polygraph examination. Corporal M.S. Efrid, the polygraph examiner for the State Police, performed one on Sept. 10, 2015. Hawks said she understood her rights, waived her right to counsel, and agreed to be interviewed about the child abuse allegations.
“Upon completion of the examination Corporal Efrid determined that ‘deception was indicated,'” Clemons said.
Clemons and Efrid discussed the findings with Bridgette Hawks, who said Cory had become angry at her and pushed her against the wall while she was pregnant with her son.
“Ms. Hawks disclosed that Cory would become impatient with (the infant) while dressing him and ‘yank’ his arms through the sleeves of his shirt. She also described another incident.
“Ms. Hawks further disclosed that a few days before (the infant) started crying about his belly, she was woken up from … ‘popping’ or ‘snapping’ noises when she was taking a nap. Ms. Hawks stated that she woke up and asked Cory what happened and he said nothing but at that time Cory was holding (the infant).”
According to the incident report, Cory Hawks told Clemons that he had spoken with his attorney and had been advised not to speak about the allegations.
Clemons consulted an occupational therapist who said that the infant continued to show “developmental delays in all areas.” He is able to walk around, but not safely because he had problems seeing things in his lower visual fields. The therapist also said he is saying some words, but should be saying short phrases or sentences by now. He has been diagnosed with “cortical visual impairment” that will likely create challenges for him when he starts school and they begin to work on literacy.
The child, who is now 2 years old, also has difficulties with fine motor coordination, according to the therapist, Clemons said.
“He is unable to complete daily living activities for himself to the degree that other 2 year olds can do,” Clemons stated in the report. The child could also have problems due to impaired language and “likely difficulty managing his emotions because he gets frustrated when his needs are not understood.” The child also has started to bang his head to the extent that he is left bruised when he is angry or upset.