An Ijamsville man was denied bail Wednesday after being accused of inflicting life-threatening injuries on his infant son, including fractured bones and severe brain trauma.
David Glenn Hunley, 31, was emotional as he appeared in Frederick County District Court via video conference call from the county’s adult detention center, shaking his head and wiping tears from his eyes as Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Carpenter read a list of accusations from court charging documents.
After telling Judge Eric Schaffer that the child, Hunley’s 2-month-old son, would likely suffer permanent blindness, memory loss and severe brain damage if he survives, Carpenter outlined even further injuries, including a fracture of one of his right ribs and another to his left clavicle that were already healing by the time the infant came to the attention of medical professionals.
“It’s the state’s position that this child was suffering ongoing abuse,” Carpenter told Schaffer, asking the judge to withhold bail given the public safety risk she believed Hunley presented.
Kush Arora, a private defense attorney hired to represent Hunley, agreed that the child’s injuries were severe, but disagreed with Carpenter’s conclusion that his client was to blame, reminding Schaffer that the first-degree child abuse charge filed against Hunley was only an allegation.
Arora pointed out that Hunley called 911 when he noticed his son was unresponsive and appeared not to be breathing at 11:38 a.m. Jan. 6. By the time emergency medical personnel arrived, Hunley had been giving his son CPR and trying to resuscitate him for several minutes with the help of 911 call-takers, Arora said.
“His interest was in getting his child the best treatment possible,” Arora said, gesturing to his client. “... This has been a devastating event to him, as you can see. This is not a person who is taking this [matter] lightly.”
The judge also heard from several of Hunley’s supporters present in court to speak on his behalf, including Richelle Wright, who identified herself as Hunley’s employer for the last several years at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as Steffani Wilkinson, who has a 6-year-old daughter with Hunley.
“He is an amazing father to her. ... He’s been wonderful to her for six years,” Wilkinson said of Hunley’s relationship with their daughter.
Arora also contradicted Carpenter’s description of the infant’s injuries, telling Schaffer that he was under the impression that the child was due to be released from Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., in the next few days.
Despite Arora’s arguments and Hunley’s character witnesses, the state’s evidence appeared to be backed by statements taken by sheriff’s deputies from medical professionals at both Frederick Health Hospital, where the infant was taken immediately after the 911 call, and Children’s National Hospital, where he was taken later.
Emergency call records indicate Hunley was home alone with his son on Jan. 6 when he called to report that the child was not breathing, according to a transcript of the 911 call obtained by sheriff’s deputies and included in charging documents.
“I need an ambulance immediately to my house,” Hunley told a call-taker, according to the transcript. “I’m giving life support breathing to my infant, he’s 2 months old, he’s not breathing very well.”
Despite Hunley’s statements to deputies that he found the infant struggling to breathe after exiting the shower, doctors at the hospital in Frederick told deputies that a scan revealed the child was suffering from subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain, which the doctor said could not have resulted from illness and was more likely the result of some kind of “external force,” according to the documents. Statements from a doctor at Children’s National Hospital were even more direct.
“[The infant’s] past medical history is significant for inflicted trauma,” the doctor is quoted as telling deputies in charging documents. “Overall historical and medical information that is available at this time is more concerning for child physical abuse than non-traumatic, purely medical entities.”
A warrant was issued Friday charging Hunley with first-degree child abuse, and Hunley was taken into custody Tuesday, according to court records. The maximum penalty for a conviction of first-degree child abuse under Maryland criminal law is 25 years behind bars or life in prison if the injuries result in the death of a child younger than 13.
While Schaffer acknowledged Hunley’s supporters in court as well as Arora’s arguments, he told Hunley that the court also needed to consider the safety of the public in making a decision regarding bail. Despite being allegations as of Wednesday, Schaffer called the charge “exceptionally heinous” and indicated that this factored into his decision as well.
“In this case, Mr. Hunley, I believe there to be no less restrictive means to ensure the public’s safety than to continue to hold you without bond,” Schaffer said.
A preliminary hearing is set in Hunley’s case for Feb. 12, according to online court records.