An Inver Grove Heights man is facing felony charges for causing serious injuries to a 3-month old baby girl, including a lacerated liver, in what charges say was repeated, “severe” child abuse.
Joel Enriquez Silva, 23, has been charged with several counts of assault and stalking in Dakota County after being accused of repeatedly abusing the infant by biting her and grabbing her “with force” and causing extensive injuries.
The criminal complaint filed last week states that on March 22, the child’s mother called 9-1-1 to report that the child wasn’t breathing after she found Silva holding the child with its head dropped back and the child appeared to not be breathing.
The child’s mother told police that child is colicky and often cries. She told police that when Silva had gone in to check on the child, who was down for a nap, he began yelling and that’s when she observed him with the child. She told police that Silva began CPR on the child until she began to cry.
The child was transported to a hospital where doctors diagnosed her with a hemorrhage on one eye and bruising throughout her body and head. A CT scan also revealed that the infant’s liver was lacerated, the complaint said.
A physician trained in child abuse pediatrics told authorities that the injuries were “highly concerning for inflicted injury and child physical abuse.” The doctor stated that the liver injury was potentially fatal, and that the child would have exhibited symptoms immediately. The doctor said that the abdominal injury was diagnostic of “severe” abuse and ordered a skeletal scan to determine whether the child had sustained any bone fractures.
In the initial police interview with the child’s mother, she denied that Silva had intentionally harmed the child, and she said that a bruise on the child’s ear, which she had first observed on March 16, had come from the infant hitting her head on a bouncy chair. The child’s mother then showed police a photo of the infant from March 20, which showed bruising on the child’s forehead and chin.
A child protection (CP) worker contacted law enforcement on or about March 24 and reported that the child’s mother had moved out of the apartment the day prior. The CP worker informed police that the child’s mother had disclosed additional information about Silva stating that he was “very controlling” and had inflicted harm on the infant in the past, the complaint said.
The child’s mother told CP that Silva had accused her of cheating and that he didn’t think the child was his. She stated that Silva would swear at the child in Spanish when the baby was crying and that he would regularly bite and grab the child with enough force to make her cry. The child’s mother relayed to CP that Silva told her that he hoped the bite marks wouldn’t show on the pictures of the infant.
She further stated that she had observed Silva grabbing the child in areas where the child showed bruising and that for about a month, Silva had been “cracking [the infant’s] back in attempts to address her colic.”
The child’s mother also reported that Silva had physically abused her in the past and that he told her to wear long sleeves to her interview the day prior to hide the bite marks on her arms. The child’s mother’s bruises were documented and photographed, according to the complaint.
When interviewed by law enforcement, Silva denied harming the child and said that he found her not breathing and began CPR. Silva blamed the liver injury on “swaddling.” The physician told police that CPR or swaddling would be insufficient to cause an injury of that type, and that the type of force needed to cause the injury would require a “massive blow to the abdomen.”
Silva has been charged with felony counts of first-degree assault involving great bodily harm, third-degree assault of a victim under age 4 and harassment involving a pattern of stalking, and one misdemeanor count of domestic assault.
Silva was arrested on warrant and made an initial court appearance on April 6. Silva was ordered conditionally released on $175,000 bail. An attorney is not yet listed on the court record and jail records indicated that Silva has been released from custody. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 30.
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