The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 7, 2013

3 charged after child seriously injured

Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Three people are accused of willful injury and child endangerment in connection with a Feb. 18 incident that authorities say led to life-threatening injuries for a 6-week-old baby.

Danielle R. Bunce, 22, of Calamus, Eladio Pena Jr., 29, of Calamus and Debra Dillion, 60, of Wheatland, are each charged with one count of willful injury and three counts of child endangerment causing serious injury. Bunce and Dillion were charged May 31. Pena was charged April 24.

According to court documents, Bunce and Dillon, her maternal aunt, brought Bunce’s baby to the Genesis Hospital emergency room in Davenport shortly before 11 a.m. Feb. 19. They told staff and police that Dillon was holding the baby the day before when a family dog jumped on her and caused her to drop the infant. The affidavit continues that tests revealed hemorrhaging and soft tissue swelling, as well as fractures of the left second rib. The baby was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

According to the affidavit, Bunce and Dillon recanted their story about the dog jumping on Dillion after learning of the seriousness of the injuries. Bunce allegedly told Davenport police that the baby’s father, Rena, had fallen asleep on the sofa in the early morning hours of Feb. 18 with the infant on his chest and awoke to the baby being on the floor, according to court documents.

Bunce, according to court documents, said she and Dillon had made up the dog story to protect Pena because of his past child abuse charges. Dillon said she lied to protect Bunce.

Clinton County Sgt. Steve Cundiff and Special Agent Matt George from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation interviewed Bunce in Iowa City. According to the affidavit, Bunce said the baby was in her crib at 9 p.m. Feb. 17 and was without any symptoms of distress. After the baby was put to bed, Bunce and Pena began consuming alcoholic beverages and eventually argued over a text message Bunce received from another male, according to the affidavit. Court documents continue that Bunce went to the bedroom where the baby was sleeping, but Pena took the baby downstairs with him at 12:30 a.m. Feb. 18. From 12:30 to 9 a.m. he was the sole caregiver of the baby, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Bunce observed that the infant was fussy and screaming in pain when she came downstairs at approximately 9:30 a.m. and she determined the baby’s neck was hurting. Following Pena’s departure from the house at noon, Bunce and Dillon observed the baby in distress and pain and bruising to the baby’s neck, according to court documents. Bunce texted Pena that the baby’s neck was fractured, according to the affidavit.

The court documents add that Dillon reported she requested the baby be taken to a hospital, but both parents refused. Pena returned home around 4:30 p.m. and he and Bunce had a physical confrontation about the baby’s injuries and condition, the court records state. That day, Pena sent a text to Bunce saying that “it was accidental” and the next day sent her another that said he felt bad about dropping her and that it “was an accident.”

At 9:09 a.m. Feb. 19, Bunce texted Pena that “I think my daughters having a seizure” and indicated they were taking her to the hospital, according the the affidavit. Bunce noticed her baby having spasms at 9 a.m., according to the affidavit. Court documents state that no one called 911 and Bunce and Dillon took the baby to Davenport instead of Genesis of DeWitt, which was approximately 15 minutes from Calamus.

The infant was hospitalized at the University of Iowa Hospitals from Feb. 19 to March 6 for multiple brain and spinal injuries. According to the affidavit, Dr. Resiyme Oral gave the opinion that the injuries were consistent with non-accidental abusive head trauma. Oral characterized the infant’s status at 9 a.m. Feb. 19 as a “life and death situation.”

Each of the charges are class C felonies and carry with them, upon conviction, as much as 10 years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000.