MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A St. Paul father faces criminal charges for allegedly shaking his infant son last week, causing life-altering injuries.
Thirty-one-year-old Warren Wheeler was charged Friday with one count of malicious punishment of a child. If convicted, he could a face potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, Wheeler’s 10-month-old son was brought to the Children’s Hospital last Thursday after suffering a seizure at his home on St. Clair Avenue.
Wheeler spoke with emergency communications personnel, and told them his son had been biting down on his tongue, shaking and breathing funny. He added later that the boy “wasn’t shaken or nothing.”
At the hospital, doctors diagnosed the boy as suffering from a condition associated with traumatic brain injury, and having an excess of fluid in his brain. They also found two lacerations on his liver. The infant’s injuries were described as “life-threatening” and “permanently life-alerting.”
Trauma was deemed the cause of the boy’s injuries, thus police and child protection were notified, the complaint said.
At the hospital, the baby’s mother told investigators that earlier on Thursday, after she’d gotten out of the shower, Wheeler brought her the boy. But when she sat him down, he kept falling over backwards. And when she sat him next to the air conditioner, he suffered a seizure. She said she didn’t know what happened to the baby while she was in the shower.
But her story later changed.
She called police that afternoon and said that the baby suffered a seizure while Wheeler had him. She added that Wheeler punched the child in the chest the night before (Wednesday) and that Wheeler yelled at the boy and hit him when he got angry.
Wheeler was then arrested.
While talking to investigators in police custody, Wheeler admitted to losing his temper and shaking the baby for “probably about five seconds” on Thursday, the complaint said. He also said he knew he wasn’t supposed to shake babies.
“I feel terrible, he’s my son,” Wheeler told police.
He added that he and the child dressed alike, and that they were growing the boy’s hair out.
When asked about hitting the boy, Wheeler said he did so after shaking him, to help him start breathing again. It was only when the child didn’t get his breath back that Wheeler brought the child to his mother.
“I didn’t try to hurt him or anything,” Wheeler said. “I love my son. I love all my kids. I be with them all the time.”