Mother, boyfriend arrested in 3-month-old's death

2013-10-04T00:35:00Z 2014-04-03T08:27:58Z Mother, boyfriend arrested in 3-month-old's deathPaige Fieldsted - Daily Herald Daily Herald
October 04, 2013 12:35 am  • 

PROVO -- A Pleasant Grove man and woman were arrested Wednesday for child abuse homicide nearly a year after the death of a three-month-old baby boy.

Joshua Harding, 30, was arrested and booked into Utah County Jail on charges of child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony. Brianna Brown, the infant's mother, was arrested Thursday evening and also booked into Utah County Jail on charges of child abuse homicide.

According to Lt. Matt Siufanua with the Provo Police, baby Paxton Stokes died on November 27, 2012 after police responded to a call at 1074 W. 860 North of a baby not breathing. The baby boy was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Siufanua says an investigation was started, but it has taken months to put the pieces of the puzzle together. According to the probable cause statement from the jail, Brown and Harding were the only adults who were with Paxton during the time frame in which the blows causing Paxton's death could have happened. Siufanua said autopsy reports indicate the infant died from trauma to the head.

According to a press release from the Provo Police Department, police believe Brown "either inflicted serious physical injury that caused the infant's death, or had care and custody of the child, and permitted another to commit this crime."

Siufanua says Harding was not the father of the baby, but Brown's boyfriend.

According to court records, Harding was charged with one count of child abuse homicide on July 29, but the case was dismissed a day later. According to an affidavit filed in that case, Harding told police that he had taken the baby upstairs to change his diaper and that Paxton was screaming. The affidavit states that Harding told police that he changed the boy's diaper, attempted to give him a binkie and a bottle to calm him down and eventually left the baby in his bassinet to cry himself to sleep. Twenty minutes later when the baby's mother went to pick him up from the bassinet, the baby wasn't breathing.

The affidavit also states that a medical examiner found bruises on his forehead, face, neck, left leg and hip, as well as red spots in his left eye. The medical examiner's report indicated that the baby's injuries were consistent with child abuse. According to the news release, "The only possible cause of injuries would be blows inflicted on Paxton or objects hitting him."

-- Paige Fieldsted covers robberies, burglaries, murders and any other crimes and court cases happening in Utah County. Follow Paige on Twitter at @paigefieldsted.
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