TACOMA, WA – Today Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Jeremy Joseph Yerger, 36, with Assault of a Child in the First Degree and Witness Tampering related to the abuse of his four-month-old son. The defendant was arraigned today and pled not guilty. Bail was set at $350,000.
On April 1, 2013, Fife Police Department officers responded to the defendant's residence regarding an unresponsive child. They found the four-month-old victim lying on the floor, pale, eyes rolled back, and gasping for breath. He was then transported to the Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.
"Children are the most vulnerable members of our community," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "Our Special Assault Unit vigorously prosecutes cases of child abuse and works with the community to protect our children."
The defendant told police that at about 6:30 a.m., the victim woke him "with a piercing scream." In an attempt to calm him, the defendant made him a bottle. He stated the victim "kept crying at me." He then placed the victim in bed. He stated, "All I can think of is when I laid him on the bed I must have put him down rougher than I thought but I didn’t slam him or anything.” The defendant stated "No, I think I must have shaken him....let’s just say I don’t want to be at fault, but I’m sure I did something to hurt him because he was fine this morning." The defendant was arrested.
The doctor stated the victim suffers from an old skull fracture, new and old subdurals, and hemorrhages in both eyes. A pediatric medical social worker reported the victim will likely have permanent vision damage in at least one eye.
The victim's mother said the defendant does not do well when he lacks sleep. She stated that the defendant calls the victim a "little bastard" when he wakes up in the middle of the night. On April 2, the defendant called his wife and told her to tell police he loves her and the victim, but not to tell them anything else. She told the defendant she had already talked to police. He told her to tell his attorney that she was not in the right state of mind when she spoke to detectives.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information, please contact Emily Conlee at (253) 798-6265, [email protected] or Kelly Kelstrup at (253) 798-7792, [email protected].