A Kalispell man pleaded not guilty in Flathead County District Court on Thursday to charges that he allegedly beat his 5-month-old daughter and then told a friend to lie to police about what happened.
Brandan Thorne has been charged with assault on a minor and tampering with witnesses and informants, both felonies. If convicted, he could face 10 years in jail and fines of up to $50,000.
According to court documents, police received a call from a Kalispell woman on April 13 saying that she heard what sounded like a baby being beaten in the next apartment. The women told police that she heard a crying baby and her neighbor yelling “shut up!” before hearing repeated banging against the wall between the two residencies.
While police were en route, dispatch received another call from the same location reporting that an infant there had stopped breathing. When police arrived they found Thorne holding his unconscious 5-month-old daughter.
The baby was rushed to Kalispell Regional Medical Center in critical condition and was then airlifted to Spokane for additional treatment. In Spokane, the baby was evaluated and it was determined that she was suffering from retinal hemorrhages throughout both eyes. The baby also began to suffer from numerous seizures. According to court documents, the baby is continuing to receive medical treatment and has undergone multiple surgeries.
At the hospital, Thorne told police that he had been holding his daughter and had tripped. When police confronted Thorne with information that the neighbor had heard him yelling, he told authorities that he had also been on the phone having an argument with a friend, Tyler Huston. Police later talked to Huston who said he had not had a phone conversation with Thorne that morning but did receive a series of text messages asking him to tell police Thorne’s versions of events, that they had been having an argument and he had tripped.
Police received search warrants for the two men’s phone records and found text messages that confirmed that Thorne had asked his friend to lie to police. Thorne also asked Huston to “please delete call logs and texts.”
A few weeks after the incident, police again met with Thorne and confronted him with the text messages and the inconsistencies with his previous statements. Thorne then admitted that he was upset with his daughter on the morning of April 13 because she would not take a bottle. However, he said he did not remember what happened after he yelled at the baby because he had “blacked out,” according to court documents.
Thorne is scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 5, 2015.