Fife man charged with assaulting his infant child

TACOMA, Wash. -- A 36-year-old Fife man accused of assaulting his infant son was charged Thursday in Pierce County Court.

Prosecutors say Jeremy Joseph Yerger fractured the boy's skull and caused hemorrhages in both his eyes, which will likely leave him with permanent vision impairment.

Fife police were called to Yerger's home on Monday after getting reports of an unresponsive child. When they arrived, they found Yerger's young son lying on the floor. Prosecutors say the boy was pale, his eyes had rolled back and he was gasping for air.

He was rushed to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, where doctors discovered he had a fractured skull, new and old subdurals and hemorrhages in both eyes, prosecutors say.

"Children are the most vulnerable members of our community," Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a Thursday statement. "Our Special Assault Unit vigorously prosecutes cases of child abuse and works with the community to protect our children."

During an interview with police, Yerger said his child woke him at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday with a "piercing scream." He said he tried to make the boy a bottle, but it didn't work and the child "kept crying at (him)."

Yerger said he put the boy on a bed, telling officers, "All I can think of is when I laid him on the bed I must have put him down rougher than I thought, but I didn't slam him or anything."

Moments later, prosecutors say Yerger told a different story.

"No, I think I must have shaken him ... let's just say I don't want to be at fault, but I'm sure I did something to hurt him because he was fine this morning," he said.

The victim's mother told officers Yerger "does not do well when he lacks sleep" and calls the baby a "little bastard" when he wakes thhe couple in the middle of the night, according to prosecutors.

In addition to his first-degree assault of a child charge, Yerger was also charged with witness tampering for allegedly calling the victim's mother and telling her to lie to police.