By Ryan Lewallen, County 17
The mother of a 3-month-old child who allegedly suffered 31 broken bones at the hands of his father now faces criminal charges for knowingly endangering the infant and failing to act on the abuse, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
Keasha Bullinger, 28, has been charged with one count of felony aggravated child abuse for allegedly failing to act on multiple incidents of abuse inflicted on her 3-month-old son by 28-year-old Tyler Martinson (County 17, Jan. 5), court documents state.
She is also charged with seven misdemeanor counts of child endangerment after reportedly leaving her son in the care of Martinson several times over the course of three months, while allegedly knowing of and witnessing the abuse, according to the affidavit.
Bullinger was arraigned on the charges before Sixth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett on Jan. 25.
Court documents state that the alleged abuse began shortly after the infant was born, with Martinson slipping into anxiety and depression as he struggled with feelings of ineptitude.
Bullinger reportedly witnessed Martinson showing signs of resentment towards the infant and picking him up “too fast or too rough,” causing the infant to scream in pain, according to the affidavit.
She allegedly spoke with Martinson on several occasions about his rough handling of the infant, the physical bruising the handling caused and would “get up in (Martinson’s) face about it,” court documents state.
On one occasion while Martinson was changing the 3-month-old’s diaper, Bullinger reportedly walked into the room to find the infant making a “gurgling sound” from blood in his mouth after he defecated on Martinson and himself.
According to court documents, Bullinger questioned Martinson about the blood, but she didn’t take any other action after he denied knowing anything about it.
Following another incident between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31, 2020, Bullinger reportedly told Martinson that he needed to work on his relationship with the 3-month-old.
“You need to understand that at this point, he’s so used to you hurting him he feels like he’s about to get hurt. He’s not dumb, they can’t do a whole lot, but I think he’d be able to recognize that,” Bullinger allegedly told Martinson, according to the affidavit.
Despite witnessing multiple abuse incidents by Martinson, to the point the infant would scream every time he saw him, Bullinger reportedly returned to work and left the infant in Martinson’s unsupervised care, according to the affidavit.
Court documents further allege that the 3-month-old infant was taken to the emergency room at Campbell County Memorial Hospital on Jan. 2 after Martinson and Bullinger noticed the infant’s ribs were swollen, popping and cracking each time he took a breath.
The infant also wasn’t using his right leg, the affidavit states.
A bedside examination by hospital staff revealed the infant had multiple broken bones including his ribs, legs, and ankles.
A follow up examination by a hospital in Colorado, where the infant was transferred due to the extent of his injuries, revealed the infant had 26 rib and five leg fractures, the worst of which was a fracture to the infant’s right upper femur, according to court documents.
Physicians concluded the injuries could only be caused by high-speed, brute-force trauma such as extreme squeezing or shaking of the infant’s torso, per the affidavit. The physician likened the force necessary to inflict the injuries on the infant to that of a vehicle accident.
During the ensuing investigation, Martinson allegedly told investigators, “I might have been a little rough,” on several occasions, the most recent of which involved him aggressively cycling the infant’s legs to help him pass gas, court documents state.
When asked what happened in a follow up interview by police detectives, Martinson told them “I got angry, you know, I just have a lot going on and I just lost it, I guess,” according to statements made in the affidavit.
When detectives asked Bullinger what it would have taken for her to do something about Martinson’s behavior, she reportedly stated the infant would have to be “screaming in pain,” the affidavit stated, adding that she would have done something more about the blood in the infant’s mouth if she thought it was caused by Martinson.
A warrant for Bullinger’s arrest was filed in Campbell County Circuit Court on Jan. 22 and Gillette police arrested Bullinger early Friday evening, Jan. 25, on four counts of felony child abuse, two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, and accessory after the fact.
Police Sgt. Eric Dearcorn advised Jan. 26 that the charges against Bullinger have since been revised to reflect one count of felony aggravated child abuse and seven counts of misdemeanor child endangerment.
If convicted, Bullinger could face up to 25 years of imprisonment for aggravated child abuse. She could also face up to one year of imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both for each count of child endangerment.