A Missouri baby whose father rammed his fingers down his throat to stop him from crying is dead, CBS News is reporting.
The 9-week-old infant known as Jax was taken into protective custody after a slew of vicious abuses by his father, Robert Burnette, left him with broken bones and a bleeding brain. Jax was on life support at the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St Louis, Missouri.
He died on Monday when a court judge ruled that the 9-week-old baby be taken off life support. The judge was acting on the findings of a hospital ethics committee that decided it was in the best interest of the child. The parents did not appeal the decision of the presiding judge.
Jax’s parents, Megan Hendricks, 20, and Robert Burnette, 19, were initially charged with felony child abuse. However, with the death of the baby, the St. Charles County prosecutor raised the charge against the 19-year-old man to child abuse resulting in death. Burnette faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.
According to police, the string abuses took place between October 18 and November 7 at the couple’s Wentzville residence. Apart from Burnette driving his fingers down the baby’s throat to stop him from crying, he also shook the child violently on several occasions.
There was even a time he picked the baby by the scruff of the neck and threw him against the wall. Another time, he slammed the 9-week-old baby into a bed and held him there. In a police interview, the deluded dad confessed to “being too rough” with his son.
Authorities say apart from bleeding on the brain, the baby had liver contusions and a broken upper arm. They also said the child’s clavicle and several ribs had been fractured in different places. Hendricks still faces the original charge of felony child abuse and neglect. The 20-year-old admitted that she saw Burnette abuse her son thrice, but refused to intervene.
Hendricks said she was well aware of the risks of violently shaking a child, admitting that she had watched a video pertaining to that with Robert before they left the hospital. The young woman also divulged that she lied to doctors about her son’s injuries. Police say Hendricks did not show any emotion over the demise of her child and always referred to Jax as “the baby” or “the kid” and never by his name.
At a point during her interview, Hendricks feigned tears but stopped as soon as the officer left the interrogation room. She said her parents lived close to their residence, but she never reached out for help, insinuating that her father had the potential to also be abusive to the baby.
Investigations revealed that Burnette has a lengthy history of violent behavior. According to his parents who were interviewed by police, he had tried to kill his brother on a number of occasions. The 19-year-old had tried to beat, stab, smother, and drown him. Court records disclosed that Burnette had been institutionalized several times for serious anger problems.
In his first appearance in court, Robert Burnette told the judge about his medical history, saying that he was bipolar and suffered from Asperger’s syndrome. The 19-year-old said he had stopped treatment because he did not have the money to pay for it anymore. He told the judge that he even had an attack in jail and had been placed on suicide watch.
The judge refused to take up the mental issue, saying that it would delay the case by an extra four months. Over a dozen women who had started the “Justice for Jax” Facebook group were present at the initial hearing of Robert Burnette. One of the women, Michelle McCluer, was not buying his story about mental illness.
“Seems like he’s trying to grasp at any straw that he can to defend such a reprehensible act against his own child.”
[Featured Image by St. Charles County Sheriff’s Office]