Crime

Doctors find burns, bruises, on 2 toddlers; mom and boyfriend are now in jail

Luke Ray Baker and Brittany Barnhart
Luke Ray Baker and Brittany Barnhart

Burns, bruises and genital injuries to two young children in August 2015 made doctors and investigators fear for the toddlers’ welfare.

Now their 23-year-old mother, Brittany Leanne Barnhart, and her boyfriend, Luke Ray Baker, 25, face three counts each of felony injury to a child and one count each of inflicting great bodily injury when Barnhart’s daughter was 14 months old and her son was 2.

The younger child was taken to the hospital first, with a severe infection on her arm that Baker and Barnhart told doctors was the result of a spider bite, according to a probable cause affidavit for Baker’s charges. The wound was so deeply infected that it required surgeries, and doctors determined that it started as a burn, perhaps from a cigarette, the affidavit states.

The girl also appeared malnourished and dehydrated, and had other injuries, including a burn on her ankle that appeared to be shaped like a cigarette lighter, a cut above her eye and multiple bruises on her face, according to the affidavit. Barnhart reportedly told investigators that those injuries might have been caused by her son throwing toys and twirling binoculars.

While the little girl was being treated, Baker and his mother took Barnhart’s young son to the hospital with a severely swollen penis and bruising to his groin, according to the affidavit. The boy also had a black eye.

“In speaking to Brittany privately, she told me she is scared of Luke and what he could do to her,” Caldwell police officer Cheryl Wendell wrote in the affidavit. Barnhart reportedly told police that Baker would take her children into a room and not let her come in when they cried. She said the couple had been together for about seven months.

The children were immediately taken from the home last year and placed with their biological father while Caldwell police and prosecutors investigated the case, Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Erica Kallin said.

Baker was charged Tuesday and Barnhart on Thursday. Both remained in jail Thursday evening on $50,000 bonds and are scheduled for preliminary hearings in about two weeks.

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