Father accused of shaking baby to death is not cooperating, authorities say
A Bryant man accused of shaking his 4-month-old baby to death has not been cooperative with detectives, authorities said.
Devin Dewayne Hunt, 23, is facing a charge of capital murder (which is applicable when a victim is 14 or younger and the defendant is 18 or older). As of press time, he is being held without bond in the Saline County jail . He is scheduled to appear via video feed for a bond hearing today in Benton District Court .
Bryant Police Sgt. Todd Crowson confirmed to the media on Tuesday that detectives have been investigating Hunt since June 21, the day officers were called to Arkansas Children's Hospital in reference to the infant: Presley Faith Hunt, who was born Feb. 6. Doctors at Children's reportedly told officers that the injuries the child had suffered were consistent with what is called "shaken baby syndrome."
Presley Faith Hunt was pronounced dead on June 22.
Crowson said numerous people, including family and doctors, were interviewed throughout the next few months as they awaited the cause of death results from theArkansas Medical Examiner's Office. He said the results were released late Friday.
"After continued investigation and numerous interviews, along with the reports from the state medical examiner and the doctors of Children's Hospital, Bryant police investigators were able to develop enough information to obtain an arrest warrant for Devin Hunt and charge him with capital murder," Crowson said.
"You have to go off interviews with what the parents are telling you, what family members are telling you and mainly what the doctors are telling you," Crowson said. "They're the experts; they've seen these kinds of injuries before; they know what they're looking for. That's why we were waiting to get back the medical examiner's report from the autopsy. All that does is confirm everything that we already know and what they know."
Devin Hunt reportedly does not have a prior criminal history and is a member of the Army National Guard, but Crowson said he has not been cooperative with detectives in the investigation.
"He hasn't been wanting to give any statements," Crowson said. "Now, I don't know if that is because his attorneys are telling him not to give statements or not. When he was taken into custody, he appeared shocked, but walked slow with small steps."
Hunt reportedly was arrested during a custody hearing for his 2-year-old son at the Department of Human Services in Benton on Monday. Police say the child is now in the custody of his maternal grandparents.
William O. "Bill" James Jr., defense attorney for Hunt, told The Saline Courier on Tuesday that the Saline County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, representing the state, only has evidence that the child "had symptoms" but that "the science is a little less exact" to claim that Hunt shook his child to death. He also claimed that the mother was with the child before Hunt and that defense attorneys will hire other experts to look into the cause of death.
"To get the whole truth, we need to see the time of the injuries," James said. "They said there were closed head injuries on the child. And because (Hunt) was with the child during that time, they charged him. There is no evidence that my client did this. There is no bruising, no fractures (on the child) and (Hunt) has denied the charges."
Crowson said there is only one person that knows the truth "and he's sitting in jail right now."
"I just think this entire family — both sides — are in shock," he said. "They've gone through a lot since June, all the way up until yesterday when he was taken into custody. ... this is a whirlwind this family is in right now, so I'm sure they're all in shock, and all of them are looking for the answers we're looking for as to why. Why did this happen?"
He added, "This is not an easy case for anyone by any means. It's even harder when it's a small small child like this this — a defenseless child. It really hits home."
If convicted of capital murder, Hunt could face life imprisonment without parole.