NH dad accused of injuring son told police he met inmates in prison who had shaken babies
MANCHESTER — A man arrested for allegedly shaking his 11-week-old baby is being held on $100,000 cash bail following his arraignment Thursday.
Anthony Yarbrough, 28, of Manchester, is charged with felony-level first-degree assault and is being held at the Hillsborough County jail.
According to court documents, police responded to Yarbrough's residence at 1901 Bodwell Road, Apt. 27, on May 16 at about 10:17 a.m., after he called 911 claiming he dropped his 11-week-old baby boy.
Emergency crews brought the infant to Elliot Hospital for treatment, where a doctor later discovered he had suffered a brain bleed and needed emergency surgery to relieve the pressure in his head and protect his brain and skull. He was transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon for further treatment after the surgery.
Deborah Pullin, a child abuse specialist APRN at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, said the boy suffered a "substantial subdural hematoma overlying the right hemisphere of his brain, with a small amount of blood on the left side of his brain as well."
Pullin said the baby also sustained retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes. She said his right eye had too many hemorrhages to count and that they were present on all layers of his visible periphery. His left eye had multiple hemorrhages on different layers as well.
Pullin said the nature of the boy's injuries was highly concerning for non-accidental trauma, and that he may be permanently affected by the injuries. She said the boy's injuries were consistent with those sustained by a baby being violently shaken or thrown.
At about 1 p.m. May 16, police conducted a voluntary interview with Yarbrough in a private room at Elliot Hospital. In this interview, Yarbrough told police that he was home alone with his son and had just given him a bath at about 10 a.m.
Yarbrough told investigators that he was holding the child in his left hand and drying him off using a towel in his right hand when the boy rolled to the right out of his grip and fell about 1½ feet into the center of his cushioned "rocker" seat. He said the boy landed on his back and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him. He said he picked the boy up under the arms and "bobbed" him up and down, but the child's head was limp and leaning back.
Yarbrough said he wasn't supporting the baby's head at this time, but he denied shaking him.
Yarbrough said he moved his son to the bed and tried to get him to respond, to no avail. He then called his wife, Kaitlin Yarbrough, 28, and subsequently called 911.
Police conducted a second voluntary interview with Yarbrough at the Manchester Police Station on Friday, where he admitted to shaking the baby after he fell into the rocker.
Yarbrough told police that after his son fell he "freaked the f*** out" and picked him up and shook him. He claimed he told police about shaking the boy in the first interview, but police reminded him that he said he only "bobbed" the baby, and denied shaking him. Yarbrough said that he shook the boy "a lot harder" than he had realized at the time of the incident.
Yarbrough agreed to participate in a re-enactment using the actual rocker and a doll. He demonstrated the way he picked up his son underneath the arms, lifted him to about eye level and shook him back and forth. He told police he recalled the baby's head bouncing back and forth. He also said he shook the baby in about five different "spurts" in succession. He then placed the boy on the bed, tapped and pinched his cheeks and checked his eyes.
Police asked Yarbrough to do a second demonstration of how hard he felt he may have shaken the boy, and as he did, police said the doll's head went all the way back and forward multiple times. Yarbrough confirmed that the boy's head moved in a similar fashion and said the baby's chin hit his chest when going forward and his head hit his back when going back.
Police asked Yarbrough why he called his shaking of the baby a "bob" in the initial interview, and Yarbrough denied trying to intentionally mislead officers. He told police that the response changed because of "how he felt then versus how he felt now," but police said he was unable to clearly explain why he initially denied shaking his son.
Yarbrough told police that the N.H. Division for Children, Youth and Families offered to have him go through parenting classes and that he wanted to participate because it might prevent an incident like this in the future. He said he would be willing to enroll in anger management counseling as well, but he said he didn't feel he needed them.
Yarbrough admitted that he gets "frustrated" or "overwhelmed" when dealing with his son at times, and said he has anger issues due to his bipolar disorder.
Police said Yarbrough then admitted that his actions directly caused the baby's injuries and said he was familiar with "shaken baby syndrome." He said he knew a few inmates when he was in prison who had shaken babies.
He also acknowledged that babies are fragile, and when police asked why he would shake the boy if he knew it could cause injuries, Yarbrough said he did it because he was a first-time father and it was the first thing that came to mind.
Yarbrough did not dispute the medical opinion that the injuries his son sustained would not have resulted from a fall. He stated that he believed that the child's injuries came solely from the shaking, not the fall.
On Monday, police spoke with Pullin and recounted Yarbrough's statements and re-enactment. She confirmed that the shaking actions Yarbrough described were consistent with the injuries the baby suffered.
An arrest warrant was generated, and Yarbrough was arrested Wednesday. He is set to appear in court again on June 7.