Issaquah father accused of putting his baby in a headlock

Issaquah father accused of putting his baby in a headlock

ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- An Issaquah father accused of putting his baby in a headlock to get him to stop crying is behind bars and facing serious jail time.

Despite the horrendous accusations, James Sells' pastor defended the man, saying he's the gentlest person he's known.

"This was an extremely violent act," said the King County deputy prosecutor, "that caused significant damage to the victim."

The 36-year-old Sells waived his right to be in court as the accusations against him were read on Tuesday. He is accused of severely injuring his 6-week-old baby boy's head in an effort to get his crying to stop.

Issaquah police say the incident came to light last Saturday when Sells and his wife Heather brought the child to Swedish Issaquah Medical Center with serious head injuries, including skull fractures. They also found bruising and swelling of the brain.

When confronted with the injuries, police say Sells confessed he'd had a couple of drinks and grew increasingly frustrated when his baby boy wouldn't stop crying.  He also allegedly put his hand over the baby's mouth.

"We stand behind his family 100 percent," said Rev. John LaMunyon of Sammamish Hills Lutheran Church.

LaMunyon said that's not the James Sells he knows and shared that with the court.

"I do not believe that this was willful negligence," he said. "I think it was born out of moment of heat on the father's part. He is one of the gentlest men I've ever known."

Judge Mark Chow set bail at $150,000.

Police say the baby has since been released from the hospital and is back in the family home along with a 2-year-old sister. A grandparent is staying with them since both parents are prohibited from being with the kids for now.