A Gillette man accused of abusing his infant son waived his preliminary hearing Monday and has been bound over to Campbell County District Court, court records indicate.
Tyler Martinson, 28, was to appear for his preliminary hearing in Campbell County Circuit Court on May 3 after months of extensions following his original arraignment in January. The preliminary hearing was intended to determine if there was probable cause to bound Martinson’s case over to District Court.
Waiving his preliminary hearing in Circuit Court means Martinson will appear at another arraignment in District Court on a day that was not specified as of May 3, during which Martinson will enter a plea on 31 counts of felony aggravated child abuse and a District Court judge will set the date and time of his trial.
The charges stem from a January incident after Martinson and 28-year-old Keesha Bullinger arrived at the emergency room at the Campbell County Memorial Hospital with their then 3-month-old son, whose ribs were reportedly popping and swollen, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
At the time, Martinson had advised doctors that he “might have been a little rough” and that the infant was not using his right leg, which was reportedly splayed to the side and not moving, per the affidavit.
Medical examinations revealed the baby had suffered 26 separate rib fractures and five leg fractures, all of which were in various stages of healing. Given the extent of the injuries, ER staff determined they could have only been inflicted by a force equivalent to that of a car crash, according to the affidavit, and reported the incident to the Gillette Police Department (GPD).
The infant was transferred to a medical facility in Denver, Colorado due to the severity of the injuries, where medical staff discovered the infant also had three compression fractures, one in his neck and two in his back, court documents state.
During the investigation, Martinson reportedly admitted that he didn’t know how to pick up or handle the infant and may have injured him several times over the course of three months. When asked to explain, per the affidavit, Martinson said “I got so angry, you know, I just have a lot going on and I just lost, I guess.”
Bullinger also described an incident to investigators of a moment several weeks prior where she had walked into the infant’s room while Martinson was changing his diaper to find the infant making “gurgling sounds” from blood in his mouth. Bullinger said that moments before, the infant had defecated on Martinson, court records state.
Over several weeks, Bullinger reportedly attempted to reason with Martinson, advising him that he needed to work on his relationship with his son, who would scream in fear any time Martinson walked into a room.
“You need to understand that at this point, he’s so used to you hurting him he feels like he’s about to get hurt. He’s not dumb, they can’t do a whole lot, but I think he’d be able to recognize that” Bullinger told Martinson, according to court documents.
Bullinger herself had been initially charged with a felony for endangering the infant by leaving him in the care of Martinson despite knowing of the alleged abuse, according to another affidavit filed in her case. The charge was later changed to reflect the prosecution’s belief that she had coached her other child on what to say during a forensic interview regarding Martinson’s case.
The felony charge against Bullinger was ultimately dismissed on Feb. 26 by Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett, who deemed Campbell County Attorney Mitch Damsky had not presented sufficient evidence to support it.
Martinson was granted a $100,000 cash or commercial surety bond during his arraignment, which he has since posted and been released from the Campbell County Detention Center.
Bullinger remains charged with seven counts of misdemeanor child endangerment.