An investigation into life-threatening injuries to a toddler taken to Longview Regional Medical Center on May 16 led to the arrest 14 days later of a 23-year-old Gladewater man, according to court records.
Aaron Matthew Starr was released May 31 on $29,000 in bonds from Gregg County Jail on a warrant from the Gregg County District Clerk for injury to a child/elderly/disabled person with intent to cause serious bodily injury/serious mental deficiency and local warrants for affidavits of incarceration for driving while intoxicated and unlawful carrying of a weapon, jail records show. Longview police arrested him May 30.
The investigation leading to Starr’s arrest started after he and the child’s mother brought the boy to the hospital with several bruises on his body, large swollen bumps on his head, a cut on his head and foot and a blown pupil in an eye, the arrest warrant said.
Before authorities arrived, the child was flown to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas for life-threatening injuries, according to the warrant. The detective on the case cited information from a pediatric fellow with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and a child abuse pediatrician and medical adviser for the Referral and Evaluation of At-Risk Children (Child Maltreatment) program.
The doctors reported the toddler required life-saving emergency surgery because of bleeding to the brain. The report said the injury would have occurred just before the boy became unresponsive, and without a traumatic incident to explain it, the injury is consistent with child abuse.
The report also said the toddler’s left scalp showed “significant” bruising that was not consistent with a short fall, along with bruising to his forehead, right outer ear and upper thighs. The bruising to his upper thighs appeared to be from forceful grabbing, the report said, because they are unusual locations for a toddler to have bruising.
The boy was taken to LRMC at first because of claims that he suffered a seizure at Starr’s workplace, which is a mechanic’s shop in the 300 block of West Harrison Road in Longview, the warrant said.
The boy’s mother said she left the workplace to buy groceries. But when she returned, Starr told her to come to the hospital, and they took her vehicle.
The mother told authorities she was unaware of the majority of the injuries, but said the boy fell from a toy four-wheeler two times and hit his head on an entertainment center in their home and on the floor, the warrant said. She said she believed her child has anemia, which causes him to bruise easily.
She said she but did not seek medical treatment for him beyond supplying over-the-counter iron supplements.
Starr told authorities the boy was in a playpen in the office at his workplace and was watching television, the report said.
Starr said he heard a grunting sound as he walked away from the office and returned to find the child with a stiff body as if he had a seizure, the report said.
He told police the child went limp and stopped breathing, and he placed the child on the ground with his head on thick gloves to protect him. He administered CPR, causing the child to vomit. He then entered his car to take the child to the hospital, and the mother arrived.
Starr provided details about the boy’s injuries similar to what the mother has said about falling off toys but denied knowing about a gash on his head, several bruises or pupil damage.
Starr said the boy fell two or three days earlier in the shop, the warrant said. Starr said the boy slipped on oil on the floor, striking the left side of his head on the floor.
However, detectives searched the shop and found several inconsistencies in Starr’s account, the report continued. Among other things, the vehicle Starr said he was working on was not present, and they could not find gloves on the ground near the door, as Starr had claimed.
Police also determined from statements and video footage that Starr was the only person with access to the child on the day when Starr said the boy was injured.
In the report, the pediatric fellow, Elizabeth Peeler, D.O., contradicted what Starr and the mother had told authorities.
“Peeler states the volume of injuries are not consistent to the description of falls provided and are consistent with child abuse,” the warrant states.
The report said testing determined the child did not have any blood illnesses, as the mother had said she suspected.