The parents of 3-month-old Lucian Mykael Shields were charged on February 19, 2016, for his death after police allege he was neglected for long periods of time.
The Bellingham Herald reports that the child’s father, Cody James Shields, 23, and the boy’s mother, Brittany Shane Daniels, 22, made their initial appearance before a judge in Whatcom Superior Court at Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, Washington on Friday. Bail was set at $10,000 each.
Lucian died in his crib on December 8, 2015, while Shields allegedly stayed up all night playing video games in the living room of the apartment where the family resides, prosecutors allege. Authorities have also indicated that Shields often wore headphones during video game play and kept the baby’s door closed.
According to The Roanoke Times, at birth Lucian weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces, and at the time of his death at 3-months-old, he had only gained about one pound, a negligible amount.
During his autopsy, the medical examiner discovered Lucian had an empty stomach, barely any fat on his body, and died of dehydration, malnutrition, and neglect, The Roanoke Times reports.
The Bellingham Herald reports that Shields told police that he fed Lucian three 6-ounce bottles of formula the night the child passed away. Shields further claimed he then went to sleep, but before he did, he propped a bottle of formula up on a blanket for Lucian to drink.
Daniels told police she fed Lucian several ounces of formula at approximately 6 a.m., but later changed the time to a few hours earlier, according to Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey. She also stated that she fed Lucian the night before, prior to leaving for work on the day of the baby’s death.
Prosecutor Richey noted that Shields said he awoke about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, but did not check on Lucian for around three hours. By the time he did, the baby was dead.
According to The Bellingham Herald, Shields informed Daniels via Facebook about Lucian’s demise. In the message he told Daniels, who was at work, that Lucian was “dead in his crib.”
Daniels telephoned 911 and police responded to the call by showing up at the couple’s home along with paramedics. Once there, authorities noted how thin Lucian was, and questioned Shields about the child’s weight. According to reports, Shields told police he was not concerned, as Lucian appeared to be growing and getting bigger.
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In a statement, Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht wrote that it appeared Lucian had been fed almost nothing in the days prior to his death. After an autopsy confirmed the baby had basically been starved, Lucian’s death was ruled a homicide.
The news outlets further note that Shields and Daniels had taken Lucian to a local clinic when he was 2-weeks-old, and found his weight had decreased since birth. They were told to increase Lucian’s caloric intake and return in 7 days, but instead the couple went to another clinic altogether.
The Bellingham Herald report also states that authorities discovered several Facebook messages between Shields and Daniels complaining about Lucian’s crying and mentioning how he does not sleep through the night.
According to The Roanoke Times, Deputy Public Defender Alan Chalfie indicated during Friday’s court hearing that the charges faced by Shields and Daniels do not indicate that they intentionally harmed Lucian. However, some facts related to the case could be in dispute, which may be addressed sometime in the future.
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