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Baby scalded; suspect arrested

November 10, 2011

Dominick Peña

STANTON — A 1-year-old Martin County boy is listed in serious condition at University Medical Center in Lubbock and a 24-year-old Stanton man is in custody after law enforcement officials say the child was injured by scalding water Tuesday evening.
Dominick Peña, 24, has been charged with injury to a child, a first-degree felony. Martin County Sheriff John Woodward said Peña was still in the custody of the sheriff's office this morning after his bond had been set at $100,000.
According to law enforcement reports, officers were called to the Martin County Hospital Tuesday at approximately 7:10 p.m. after a Stanton woman brought the child to the emergency room. Statements given by the child's mother indicate she had left the 1-year-old alone with her boyfriend, Peña, while she had gone to work.
She told officers that while she was at work, she received a phone call from Peña telling her the child had been burned. The child is believed to have suffered second-degree burns over much of his body, caused by scalding-hot water.
Woodward confirmed the investigation into the incident was coming to a close, saying Peña had given officers a statement. However, he declined to go into details, deferring instead to Stanton Police Chief Fred Shroyer, whose department has taken the lead in the investigation.
“The Martin County Sheriff's Office has assisted with the investigation in various forms throughout,” Woodward said. “The investigation has come to a close, however, and we're at a point where we'll have to wait for the indictment. We have his (Peña's) statement, and it's pretty straight forward.”
According to Shroyer, officers determined Peña immersed the child in scalding hot water. Shroyer would not confirm if Peña's alleged actions were intentional or accidental, citing the ongoing investigation.
“The child was airlifted to Lubbock's University Medical Center Burn Unit with first-degree and second-degree burns to approximately 14 percent of his body,” Shroyer said.
Shroyer also declined to comment on the details of Peña's statement, saying he expects to be able to hand the case over to the 118th District Court District Attorney Hardy Wilkerson sometime next week.
If convicted on the first-degree felony charge, Peña could face between five to 99 years to life in prison.
Eric Finley, communications manager for University Medical Center in Lubbock, said the child will continue to undergo treatment, although it is currently unclear what kind of long-term damage may have been done.
“It's too early to comment on that,” Finley said. “We just don't know yet.”

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