Strong language: The following story contains descriptions of violence and language some may find graphic and disturbing. Read at your own discretion.
By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
A Riverton man accused of breaking his newborn twin daughters’ legs has been transferred to a higher court after the case detective unveiled notes from the man’s phone calls in jail.
Anthony Long, 27, was charged Nov. 23 with two counts of felony child abuse after Riverton hospital staff found broken bones and bruises on both of his twin daughters. The girls were about 3 weeks old, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts on Wednesday transferred Long’s case to the Fremont County District Court after determining there is probable cause for the state to pursue felony-level prosecution.
Roberts’ decision came after Riverton Police Department Detective Kingston Cole read aloud from his transcription of Long’s jailhouse phone calls.
Long is being held at the Fremont County Detention Center.
Assistant County Attorney Ember Oakley asked Cole to read from a transcript documenting jail calls between Long and his fiancée, the twins’ mother.
Cole said that the mother questioned Long during their phone calls, and Long tried to explain the events to her.
‘I Pulled Too Hard And I Heard A Little Pop’
“She kept kicking, so I grabbed her leg, I pulled it to the side,” read Cole, from a jail call between Long and his fiancée on Nov. 23. “I pulled too hard and I heard a little pop.”
Cole said the mother asked Long why he didn’t tell her what had happened so she could have taken the twins to the hospital earlier.
“I was so scared,” read Cole, relating Long’s words. “I know my life was over … ashamed and embarrassed.”
‘Caused By Me’
In another conversation, Long reportedly said that the infants “were just so fragile. I was just too aggressive.”
Cole said Long attributed the girls’ broken legs to his diaper-changing methods. One baby’s broken ribs he attributed to swaddling too tightly.
“I didn’t know I was squeezing that hard,” read Cole, relating Long’s words.
Cole also read the mother’s words, apologizing to Judge Roberts for using foul language in the court.
“You didn’t feel the need to fucking tell me so I could, like, take her to the hospital right when this fucking happened?” read Cole.
Long reportedly replied, “I was just so scared.”
Cole read from a call in which Long reportedly said that “all of their injuries were of course caused by me.” He also spoke of scratches on their ears, which he said also were caused by him, according to Cole’s account.
“What you did was fucking evil,” Cole said, quoting the twins’ mother.
“Yes it was,” Long reportedly answered.
List Of Injuries
Oakley asked Cole to list the twins’ injuries according to the medical examiner in a trauma unit in the Primary Children’s Hospital in Utah.
Cole said the first twin, whose swollen leg sparked the investigation, had:
Lacerations and scarring on her nose and ears.
• Bruising on her left cheek.
• Rib fractures.
• A tibia fracture.
• A femur fracture.
• Bruising on her back.
Cole said the second twin, whose grandmother brought her to the hospital when hospital staff raised suspicions about the nature of the first twin’s injuries, had:
• Bruising and lacerations on her nose and ears.
• Broken ribs.
• A tibia fracture.
• A forearm fracture with bruising.
• Burst blood vessels in her left eye.
Cole said doctors studied the injuries to determine whether the newborns could have acquired them during birth. They ruled out that possibility, he said, noting that there was “no healing” in the injuries, signifying that they are recent.
The “constellation” of injuries was “not accidental in nature … they resulted from, using his words, ‘abuse,’” said Cole, quoting the twins’ doctor.
No Questions From Defense
Long’s public defender, Jonathan Gerard, chose not to cross-examine Cole. He also did not argue against transferring Long’s case to the higher court.
Gerard told Roberts he would not contest the probable cause finding to elevate the case, because both child abuse charges also apply when injuries come from “reckless” behavior, not just intentional behavior.
Long’s presumption of innocence remains with him, however, as he has not pleaded guilty or been convicted. He may seek a jury trial, a plea agreement or a mental illness finding in the district court.