Kinston Police say they have charged a man with murder in the death of his 1-month-old baby, who died of "abusive head trauma" and other injuries.
According to the Kinston Department of Public Safety, officers arrested 20-year-old Ricky Lee Clark Jr. at about 4:30 p.m. Monday at his home. Clark is charged with an open count of murder in the death of his 1-month-old son, Caden Demari Williams, of Hill Street.
During his first court appearance Tuesday morning, the judge denied bond for Clark. The judge made it clear that Clark could be sentenced to death if convicted. The district attorney said more charges are expected.
Kinston Police said Caden died on Feb. 17. At that time, the cause of death was undetermined.
But an autopsy later revealed that the baby's death was a homicide, said investigators. Caden died from "abusive head trauma and blunt/compressive force injuries of the trunk," according to the autopsy report (more details later in the article).
On Aug. 20, the Kinston Department of Public Safety reopened the investigation, ultimately leading to the arrest of Clark on Monday.
Baby Caden's mother, Tyrianna Williams, said she was relieved after Clark was taken into custody.
"It feels like a whole lot has been lifted off of me now that I know he's locked up," said Williams.
Williams said Clark never told her what happened in the hours before Caden's death.
THE DAY OF CADEN'S DEATH:
According to the autopsy report, 1-month-old Caden was in the care of his father when he coughed up blood on Feb. 17. The father then changed the baby's clothes and put him back to bed, the report says.
About an hour later, the father checked on Caden and found the 1-month-old unresponsive, the report states. The baby's parents and paternal grandparents then took the infant to Lenoir Memorial Hospital.
The report says the baby had no pulse and CPR was performed. But the infant was not responsive and was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m. on Feb. 17, just 16 minutes after arriving at the hospital, according to the report.
AUTOPSY RESULTS (Details are graphic):
The Brody School of Medicine at ECU performed the autopsy on Caden.
"Autopsy examination revealed acute subdural hemorrhage suspicious for abusive head trauma as well as rib fractures, contusions of the thymus and right middle lobe of the lung, and multiple lacerations of the liver," the report says.
The 1-month-old was suffering from subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain), according to the report. In addition, the baby had mild brain swelling and retinal bleeding, as well as a skull fracture, a spinal cord injury, and four rib fractures.
"[The injuries are] consistent with compressive grasping of the infant by the chest and vigorously shaking and slamming the infant against a relatively soft but nonyielding object. Striking the infant with a hand or fist would produce similar injuries," the report states.
Further examination of the baby's brain revealed that the injuries were acute and occurred within hours of the baby's death, according to the report. An examination of the spinal cord revealed that the injuries were acute and in the process of healing, with some prior injuries dating back at least two to four days, the report says.
The baby's rib fractures were healing, indicating that the injuries had occurred several days prior to his death, the report states.
The report explains that the infant could have appeared relatively normal just hours before the fatal injuries were inflicted.
Based on the findings, the report concluded that the cause of death is "abusive head trauma and blunt/compressive force injuries of the trunk."
In addition to his mother, father and grandparents, 1-month-old Caden is survived by a sister, according to his obituary.