Homicide Charge Expected Against Father Accused of Shaking Baby
More charges are expected to be filed against a Fort Smith man accused of shaking his infant son.
Matthew Nicholas Schutz, 26, is currently being held without bond in Sebastian County Detention Center, on a first degree domestic battery charge.
His son, 2-month-old Benjamin, passed away late Wednesday night (March 20), according to police. A judge signed an affidavit prepared by Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, allowing the baby to be taken off life support.
“The lead detective in this case received word from the attending physicians that basically Children’s Hospital had exhausted all means of saving this little infant,” said Sgt. Daniel Grubbs with the Fort Smith Police Department.
The baby’s body will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.
The Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will now review the case to determine what additional charges will be filed, according to Grubbs.
“We expect, with this updated information, that charges will be amended and upgraded to some type of homicide class murder one, murder two,” Grubbs said. “That’s yet to be determined, but as soon as the prosecutors make their evaluations of the appropriate charge, those will go into effect.”
Schutz was arrested on a first degree domestic battery charge March 13.
On March 10, Schutz and his wife, Carol Schutz, brought their infant son to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital with suspicious injuries, according to police.
Schutz told hospital staff that earlier in the evening he had accidentally dropped the child while placing him onto a changing table.
The attending physician at Mercy Hospital told police the child’s injuries were consistent with “shaken baby syndrome,” according to Grubbs.
Carol Schutz told the doctor she went to the store and left Benjamin with her husband. When she returned home, she noticed a bulge on the child’s head, according to a police report.
The baby was lethargic, wouldn’t open his eyes or eat, she told the doctor. That’s when she began questioning her husband about what had happened while she was out, the police report states.
Schutz told her nothing had happened. Carol began researching the baby’s symptoms online and asked him again, the report states. He admitted to dropping the child while changing a diaper, police say.
According to police, Carol said she’d witnessed Schutz picking the child up by his feet before and had told him not to.
The investigating officer noticed a scratch and redness on the back of Benjamin’s shoulder and bruising near his eyes. The mother told police neither of those injuries were present before she left to go to the store, the report states.
A CT scan at Mercy Hospital showed the infant suffered bruising to the front and back of the brain as well as a brain bleed, the police report states.
The baby was then taken by medical helicopter to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where a second doctor confirmed the diagnosis.
Records show Fort Smith Police responded to domestic battery report at Schutz’s residence Feb. 5, 2012.
According to the report, Carol told police that a fight occurred between she and Schutz, who was her boyfriend at the time, after the two had been arguing over bills.
She told police Schutz grabbed her and threw her down the stairs, before climbing on top of her and trying to choke her, the report states.
Carol told the responding officer that Schutz told her he would kill her. Officers noticed a mark on her cheek where Schutz had bitten her, the report states.
When she finally broke free and attempted to leave in a vehicle, Schutz threatened to report the vehicle stolen, according to the report. She stayed and the fight continued until she was able to calm Schutz down and call his mother, who came to the apartment, according to police.
Carol claimed Schutz had been drinking prior to the fight and that he had taken some medication to treat his bipolar disorder, the report states.
The next day the case was dropped after Carol decided not to pursue criminal charges against Schutz for fear ‘it would ruin his life’, the police report states. She told police Schutz had agreed to seek counseling.
Friends of the baby’s mother have set up a bank account at the United Federal Credit Union to help offset travel and medical expenses. If you would like to help, you can donate to Account #91363025292.