Defense: Woman Thought Son Had a Viral Infection

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- A Clinton woman charged with child abuse in the death of her 2-year-old son did not know he had been severely injured and just thought the boy had a viral infection, her public defender said.

Rachel Burns, 22, pleaded innocent to the second-degree felony charge Thursday before 2nd District Judge Darwin C. Hansen.

Public defender Todd Utzinger told the judge he expects a resolution within the next few weeks.

Layton police responded to a 911 call about a domestic dispute at a Layton apartment complex June 1. When they arrived, Burns and Clinton L. Rosenbaum, 24, of Clearfield were outside fighting. Officers found Burns' son, Jackson, unconscious inside the apartment.

Rosenbaum allegedly persuaded Burns to allow him "to burn one of the child's small fingers with a cigarette in an effort to revive him. The burn was so serious as to remove the tip of the child's finger," according to the documents.

The boy died June 2 at Primary Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Rosenbaum is charged with first-degree felony murder and two counts of second-degree felony child abuse in Jackson's death. Trial is set for Oct. 3.

Burns was charged with child abuse for allegedly allowing the child's finger to be burned.

The charging documents alleged that Rosenbaum, "a martial arts practitioner, violently punched a 2-year-old child in the head with extreme force" because the toddler had hit Rosenbaum's dog with a toy.

Rosenbaum then "tossed the child's limp body into a bedroom and the child's head struck the wooden portion of the bed, causing further injury," the documents allege.

The autopsy revealed that the boy previously had been "kicked or hit in the abdomen with such force that it injured him internally, making him sick and causing him to vomit for several days," the documents allege.

Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson said Burns is charged because she allegedly gave Rosenbaum permission to burn the child's finger.

Rosenbaum, who worked with Burns, was staying at the woman's home, but was not a boyfriend, Utzinger said.

He said Burns had taken Jackson to a doctor several days before he died because he had been throwing up on and off for several weeks.

Utzinger said the doctor did not know the child had been injured and diagnosed Jackson with a viral infection.

Utzinger said there were no X-rays taken because the doctor had no reason to believe Jackson had been kicked or hit in the stomach. It wasn't until an autopsy that Burns learned of the injury, he said.

Burns was not a knowing participant of "the long-term abuse of her child," Utzinger said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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