PROVO — A Utah County couple was charged Friday with child abuse after a 3-month-old girl was found to have a severely burned hand and broken bones in the process of healing, according to court documents.
Daniel Howard Mercer, 28, was charged in 4th District Court with two counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony; drug possession, a class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.
Whittney Angel Huber, 30, was charged with child abuse, a third-degree felony, for allegedly not doing anything about the abuse being inflicted by Mercer, according to court records.
On Dec. 31, Huber took her 3-month-old daughter to the emergency room at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. She was diagnosed with having 2nd degree burns over most of her left hand and taken to the University Burn Center in Salt Lake City, according to charging documents.
"Further examinations the next day by doctors at the Primary Children's Hospital revealed several severe serious bodily injuries to include the following: two broken … bones (one break in both the left and right upper arm), intracranial brain bleeding consistent with shaken baby syndrome, possible detached retinas which may lead to vision problems or loss of vision," according to a Utah County Jail affidavit.
"It is still to be determined, whether the infant child will need surgeries of many sorts to repair the damage done to her little body," the affidavit states.
Doctors determined the injuries had occurred over a two-week period, the report states.
"Huber told the detective she didn't want to believe Mercer had caused the injury, but admitted Mercer had been violent with her in the past, and was angry at the baby, calling her 'it' or 'the thing' because he didn't believe (the girl) was his child," according to charging documents.
When Mercer was interviewed by police, he initially denied knowing how the baby received her injuries. But later, "he said the baby's hand might have gone into the pot of boiling water because he was 'reckless' and not paying attention," the charges state.
Mercer also threatened to "kill the baby and make her watch as the baby died," according to court documents.
Spanish Fork police noted in the report that Mercer had been arrested twice for domestic violence in the past two months, and that Huber "has continually allowed Daniel to return to the apartment where he has assaulted and abused both her and her child."
Police stated both Mercer and Huber have "extensive" histories of drugs, theft, assault and fraud. The state already has taken custody of two of Huber's children and adopted them to other families, the report states, and Utah's Division of Child and Family Services is seeking custody of the infant.
Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting the YWCA's Women in Jeopardy program at 801-537-8600, or the confidential statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online at udvc.org.
- Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Hotline: 1-800-897-5465 (LINK)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
- YWCA 24-Hour Crisis Line: 801-537-8600
- Partner insults, demean or embarrasses you with put-downs
- Partner controls what you do, who you talk to or where you go
- Partner looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
- Partner pushes you, slaps you, chokes you or hits you
- Partner stops you from seeing your friends or family members
- Partner controls the money in the relationship, takes your money or Social Security check, makes you ask for money or refuses to give you money
- Partner makes all decisions without your input or consideration of your needs
- Partner tells you that you’re a bad parent or threatens to take away your children
- Partner prevents you from working or attending school
- Partner acts like the abuse is no big deal, denies the abuse or tells you it’s your own fault
- Partner destroys your property or threatens to kill your pets
- Partner intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Partner attempts to force you to drop criminal charges
- Partner threatens to take their life or threatens to kill you