NASHUA, NH – A local man, accused of leaving an 18-month-old child in a shower of scalding water, severely burning him, was ordered held without bail even though the toddler’s parents told a judge that severely hot water randomly pours out their showerhead.
Caleb Marquis, 28, of 15 Beech St., is charged with second-degree assault, a class B felony, reckless conduct and endangering the welfare of a child, both class A misdemeanors.
Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Brian Greklek-McKeon, in a WebEx hearing from Hillsborough County Superior Court Southern District on Thursday, argued that Marquis should be held in preventive detention because he poses a danger to the community.
He said late Tuesday afternoon police went to 15A Beech St. after being called about an 18-month-old child who was unconscious.
Marquis, who was babysitting the toddler, initially told police he was giving him a shower when the dog began to bark and he left the bathroom to see what was happening. When he returned, he found the child unconscious.
The toddler was taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and, because the injuries were so severe, later was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. The child, the prosecutor said, had burns on his forehead, both sides of his face and down the left side of his body.
What is most concerning in the case, the prosecutor said, was Marquis told police that several times the crying child tried to get out of the shower but he pushed him back into it until the toddler eventually stopped crying and sat down in the water.
“This is absolutely egregious behavior to do to an 18-month-old child,” Greklek-McKeon said.
A physician told police the child suffered from second-degree burns and blistering, had bruising on his lower back and hips and petechiae on his chest and around his neck, presumably from excessive coughing. The toddler was in stable condition as of Wednesday, Greklek-McKeon told the judge. Additionally, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the high sensation) was found in the child’s system.
Isai Ashland and Gregory Pelletier, the child’s parents, believe the incident was an accident. “Mistakes do happen,” Ashland said.
She acknowledged that THC was found in her child’s system, but she said that was on her and the father, both of whom smoke marijuana.
She also said the water in the shower gets hot randomly but she hadn’t contacted the landlord about it.
“I do not believe he is a threat,” she said. “I would like him to be able to come home.” She said Marquis, who has two children ages 9 and 6, is an “amazing father.”
Pelletier said he’s known Marquis for 10-plus years and they went to school together. “I know for a fact he never would put a child in harm’s way ever,” he said. “It was an honest mistake.”
Pelletier said he can vouch for the shower getting severely hot because when they first moved into the apartment, he suffered first-degree burns on his arms and face.
“So I can vouch for the shower and everything that’s happened,” he said.
Marquis, when interviewed at the police station, admitted he was not paying attention to the child when he was in the shower and crying, according to Greklek-McKeon. Marquis said he had used the toilet and flushed it, making the water hotter.
He then left the child alone in the shower and it was only when he returned that he realized the child was unconscious. When he picked the toddler up, he was hot to the touch, so he put him in front of an air conditioner unit and then went next door to get help.
Detectives later confronted Marquis about the THC finding and he admitted smoking marijuana while giving the child a shower. Marquis told investigators the bathroom was filled with steam and smoke and he did not check the temperature of the water before putting the child in the shower.
Judge Charles Temple said there was clear and convincing evidence from the facts in the case and Marquis’ statements for him to be held in preventive detention. He scheduled an evidentiary hearing for 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.
Reporter Pat Grossmith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org