Charges of felony malicious punishment of a child filed this week in Ramsey County District Court say a father admitted to police that he "squeezed [the baby's] head with such force that he heard an audible popping sound and felt [the baby's] skull bone squish in his hands" on Feb. 21 when the child was 18 days old.

The baby boy, identified in the complaint by his initials, B.A.M., had "numerous skull fractures, intracranial bleeding" and an elbow fracture, the baby's doctor told police. He will have permanent brain damage, the complaint said.

Bryant C. Mendenhall, 20, of St. Paul, said he injured the baby while giving him a bath. Then he swaddled the baby in a blanket and gave him back to his mother without telling her about the potential injury. He was angry, he said, after an argument with the baby's mother, the complaint said.

The defendant and his wife, Pamela J. Mendenhall, 22, took the baby to the emergency room at Regions Hospital on Feb. 23 because of concerns he wasn't eating and had a high fever.

A police officer called to the hospital noted the defendant was "nervous and restless," first sitting in a chair, then standing, then balancing on one leg until he almost fell over, the complaint said.

The baby's mother told police she had been with the defendant for a little more than a year. They met on the Internet and he moved from Missouri to live with her. She denied that he was violent, but the mother's mother told police that Mendenhall "has a control issue ... and won't let [his wife] out of his sight."

Mendenhall initially denied accidentally bumping the child's head on something. Later, he said he tossed the baby onto a bed after he and his wife argued and she told him she wanted to end their marriage. Later still, he said he fell down a flight of stairs and the baby's head hit the floor.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992