Father waives hearing in infant son’s death

WINFIELD, W.Va. A Hurricane man accused of killing his 5-week-old son wept in court Thursday as he waived his preliminary hearing.

Assistant Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Kris Raynes said Robert Jeremy Smith, 33, of Shank Avenue, chose to waive his right to the hearing in exchange for early discovery reports from the prosecutors, such as pictures and other documents from the investigation into the death of the infant, Madden A. Smith. That evidence could aid in his defense.

“He won’t have to wait until he’s indicted” to receive the documents, Raynes said. A grand jury will decide whether to indict Smith in July.

Attorney Shawn Bayliss, who is representing Smith, declined comment.

The infant was found dead in the back seat of a car in Kanawha City May 21. Smith is charged with death of a child by a parent as a result of child abuse. Police said he told them, “The baby is dead; I killed the baby.”

Charges were filed in Putnam County, but Smith was arrested in Kanawha County.

According to a criminal complaint, Smith had been caring for his son at his Shank Avenue home. The infant died a day before he was arrested. The complaint states Smith first told police he picked the boy up and accidentally dropped him, but later said he had shaken the infant.

The complaint states Smith realized Madden was dead within minutes but didn’t tell anyone for more than 27 hours because “he was afraid he would get into trouble.”

The infant’s body was found in the back seat of a red Toyota Corolla at 3815 Venable Ave. on May 21. Smith was also there, with his throat cut. Police said he apparently tried to take his own life.

Charleston Police Department Chief of Detectives Lt. Steve Cooper said Robert Smith had been living in Kanawha City but recently moved to the Hurricane address. Smith and his wife, Jennifer, had apparently separated recently, Cooper said.

According to the criminal complaint, the 5-week-old Madden had apparent abrasions on his forehead when examined by paramedics, and appeared to have suffered multiple skull fractures. Smith is 6 foot 3 inches tall and weighs 270 pounds.

In 2013, Robert and Jennifer Smith faced misdemeanor charges of child neglect creating risk of bodily injury or death. Those charges were later dismissed.

The couple had let their 12-year-old child watch over four other children — ages 10 years, 5 years, 4 years and 3 months — while they were away, according to a criminal complaint filed in that case. Police said the 12-year-old wasn’t old enough to watch over the baby.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.

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