Father Charged in Shaking Baby in West St. Paul

Created: 02/26/2013 5:35 PM KSTP.com By: Maricella Miranda

A father has been charged in the assault of his 4-month-old baby.

Michael Joseph Mason, 26, of West St. Paul, faces a felony charge of first-degree assault in Dakota County District Court, according to a criminal complaint filed last week.

Police responded to a hospital Feb. 18 on a report of a baby girl with head trauma.

Mason said he was caring for the child Feb. 17 at home while the mother was at work.

The child fell asleep in his arms, and Mason said he tripped while taking the baby to her crib, according to the complaint. The baby may have hit her head during the fall, he said.

Mason also said that the baby threw up after eating, the complaint said.

He denied noticing that the baby was injured, according to the charges. Mason said he damaged his phone earlier that day, so he couldn't call for help.

The baby's parents took her to the hospital the next day and reported she was acting fussy and abnormal, the complaint said.

According to the charges:

Doctors found bruises on the child's leg and eye. Tests also showed that the baby had bleeding in her brain and eye, in addition three to four skull fractures.

The bleeding was consistent with non-accidental trauma, doctors reported. The injuries likely happened from the baby being shaken very forcefully, hit or thrown against something.

Mason later told police that he had shaken the baby "in a playful manner" before tripping while carrying her, the complaint said. The baby started crying, he said.

He eventually said that the baby hit her head on the floor more than once while he was shaking her, according to the charge. The infant passed out for about 10 minutes and during that time he dropped the child while carrying her.

Mason said he possibly fell onto of the child's head or body, the complaint said.

Mason and the baby's mother argued earlier in the day because she had misplaced his keys, Mason told police. He also said that he accidentally broke his phone after that, and began "playing" with the baby by shaking her to "calm down."

Mason said he didn't tell the mother about the baby losing consciousness or banging her head because he was nervous and scared, the charge said.

According to state court records, Mason does not have a criminal record, except for minor traffic violations.