A 9-month-old baby suffered potentially fatal and life-altering injuries after his St. Paul father shook and hit him, according to criminal charges.
Warren Wheeler, 31, was charged Friday in Ramsey County District Court for malicious punishment of a child after his son was hospitalized for seizures.
According to the complaint, emergency personnel received a call Thursday from the infant’s mother who asked for an ambulance to be sent to her home on St. Clair Avenue near S. Dunlap Street because her baby was having a seizure. During the call, the line was disconnected, and when dispatch called back, Wheeler answered the phone. Wheeler said the baby was biting down on his tongue and had been wheezing and breathing funny the night before.
A little before 1 p.m., the baby was admitted to Children’s Hospital where he was found to have brain swelling and blood outside the brain. The infant also was found to have two lacerations to his liver. The physician indicated that the boy’s injuries were life-threatening and permanently life-altering, charges said. It was determined that trauma was the cause of the boy’s injuries.
When questioned by police, the boy’s mother said that the boy had been crying a lot the last couple of weeks. At first, the boy’s mother said she didn’t know if the baby’s crying bothered Wheeler, but she later admitted that in the past she had seen Wheeler shake their son because he was crying, as well as hit him when he got mad.
On the day that paramedics were called, the woman said Wheeler had handed her the baby when she got out the shower. She had thought the baby was sleeping but when she put him on the floor he leaned back. When she brought her baby near the air conditioner, Wheeler said the child had suffered a seizure.
After he was arrested, Wheeler admitted that he lost his temper and shook the baby, which he said he knew he wasn’t supposed to do. Wheeler also said he punched the child in the chest to get him to breath again because the boy had stopped breathing and had made wheezing noises.
“I feel terrible, he’s my son,” Wheeler told police. He said the two of them often wore similar clothes.
“I didn’t try to hurt him or anything. I love my son. I love all of my kids,” he said.
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495