NOBLESVILLE — The parents of a 2-month-old boy are accused of physical abuse that caused the child broken bones and brain damage a doctor said could cause permanent neurological disability, according to court records.
Herman J. Bland III, 35, and Ifrica A. Almalik, 24, were both charged Tuesday with one count each of neglect of a dependent resulting in catastrophic injury, a level 1 felony, online court records show.
An investigation found their son suffered internal bleeding to his head, bone fractures and other injuries, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Noblesville police began investigating Oct. 23, 2021 after being contacted by the Indiana Department of Child Services. Bland and Almalik's child was taken by an ambulance about 10 p.m. the night prior to Peyton Manning Children's Hospital because he was suffering seizure-like symptoms, according to the affidavit.
Once the baby arrived, he underwent surgery for a hemorrhage medical staff believed was the result of shaken baby syndrome. Staff told police that Almalik said she and Bland called 911 after the baby began showing signs of a seizure around 9 p.m. that night.
The pair told staff the baby had been "in his typical state of good health, eating well and acting like they would expect any baby to eat," according to the affidavit.
Bland and Almalik also told staff the baby was treated for a red spot on his eye at five weeks old and his head appeared to have swelled two weeks before he was taken to the hospital. They said he was acting normal despite his head's size and said he had not suffered any physical trauma.
On Oct. 24, police were notified test results indicated the baby had a healing broken wrist and possibly three broken ribs. Bland and Almalik were interviewed separately by DCS later that day.
Bland said he believed the baby's wrist could have been injured when doctors were bending it to draw blood. When Almalik was asked about the injuries, she said she did not cause them, stating, "I wouldn't do it, wouldn't hurt my kids," the affidavit alleges.
During their interviews, the parents said they wondered about the baby's head size, breathing, excessive crying and redness in his eye but said a doctor told them it was normal. Bland said he noticed the baby's eyes were going down as his head grew.
A report from a child abuse pediatric physician found the baby's injuries were consistent with child abuse and were likely caused a few weeks prior.
Prosecutors obtained a subpoena to look through the medical records of the baby's pediatrician's office, which showed the baby was seen four times between August 31 and September 30, 2021. The pediatrician said the baby appeared normal and there were no concerns regarding his conditions.
Police later executed a search warrant for data and content on Almalik's phone and found search results in her browser history including "can a kick to the head cause a hematoma in a newborn", "how much force does it take to cause shaken baby syndrome" and "how do you know if a parent is guilty of baby shaken syndrome".
Police also discovered a text exchange on her phone discussing her tossing the baby and the baby's swollen head.
Bail was set Thursday in the amount of $150,000 for Bland and Almalik. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for them both on July 5 ahead of an Aug. 15 jury trial at Hamilton Superior Court.