By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
St. Tammany Parish officials at a press conference on Tuesday morning were searching for words to appropriately describe the report they brought to the media about a 7-week-old baby boy who was killed in Slidell when his own father allegedly punched him on the couch because he was crying too much.
“How someone can do this to a defenseless infant is beyond me,” St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith said. “Much less his own father…..and all because a baby was crying. It’s a sad excuse.”
The baby, Karter Smith, was being watched by Anthony Dearmas, his father, as the mother of the child was at her job. But Dearmas apparently became agitated, the sheriff said, because his son wouldn’t stop crying while he was sitting on the couch.
“Dearmas initially fabricated a story and told us he punched Karter off the couch, knocking him to the ground, and causing him to fall on his head,” Smith said.
However, St. Tammany Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said the severe injuries to the baby, which were reported as seven fractures to the skull and bleeding in the brain, may have come in several ways.
“The injuries were positively not consistent with any accidental trauma,” he said. “The fractures were on both sides of the skull so whether it was being punched, or something like being on the floor and stepped on—it’s still under investigation to be sure.”
Dearmas and the baby’s mother were not married, but living in a trailer at 1200 Eagle Lake Blvd. just off Hwy. 11. There were no other children in the home and Dearmas was not employed, one detective said. Dearmas also had no previous record other than traffic offenses.
The Sheriff’s Office does suspect the possible use of drugs by Dearmas, although “not the kind that would have led to someone doing something like this,” a source said.
The Sheriff’s Office initially received the call last Wednesday, May 10 about an infant who wasn’t breathing. When EMT officials got on the scene they were able to revive the child and rushed him to a local hospital. Doctors determined that Karter Smith had suffered severe head injuries, which prompted investigators to question Dearmas.
Initially, Dearmas made up a story about him hitting the child and knocking him off the couch and onto the ground, falling on his head. With that information, the Sheriff’s Office charged Dearmas with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.
With the baby in the hospital for several days, doctors eventually determined he was brain dead due to his injuries, and he died on Saturday, May 13. An autopsy on Monday revealed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and the manner of death to be child abuse homicide.
Dearmas, still in the parish jail, was additionally charged on Monday with first-degree murder.
“This poor child never had a chance to live,” Smith said. “This is a difficult case for our detectives to handle since they all have families of their own. It’s just very sad.”
Preston echoed those thoughts. “This is a heinous incident and devastating for any of us to look at. It’s so difficult to understand how a parent could purposely do such a thing to a child.”
Smith declined to comment further about Dearmas’ comments once he was confronted with evidence indicating the intentional killing. The investigation is still continuing.