• Infant in alleged beating dies By Josh O'Gorman
     | August 12,2008

    LEBANON, N.H. — An 8-week-old baby girl from Springfield who was hospitalized after allegedly being beaten by her father has died.

    A representative from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center said the baby — identified in court proceedings by her initials "C.B." — died Saturday.

    Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand confirmed the baby died over the weekend.

    Shortly after midnight July 29, C.B. was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock after her mother, Kelly Hill, 23, called 911 to report her baby was not breathing, court records state.

    The baby's father, Andrew L. Bedner, 28, initially told police he had dropped his daughter while feeding her, but later confessed to striking his child in the back of her head with his elbow after he "completely lost control," according to court records.

    A doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock told police the baby had suffered multiple skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhage, unexplained bruises, retinal hemorrhages, multiple rib fractures in different stages of healing and "devastating brain injuries," according to court records.

    Bedner has been held at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield on $100,000 bail since his arrest July 31.

    On Aug. 4, Bedner pleaded innocent in White River Junction District Court to two felony counts of first-degree aggravated domestic assault, with each count carrying a maximum 15-year sentence. After entering an innocent plea on behalf of his client, attorney David Sleigh asked Judge M. Kathleen Manley that he and Bedner be involved in any medical decisions that might be made for C.B. in a Vermont court.

    "I'm not sure if there are decisions about terminated life support. I'm not sure if it will be in New Hampshire because that's where she is or in Vermont because she's in the custody of (the Department for Children and Families,)" Sleigh said.

    Steve Dale, commissioner for the Department for Children and Families, said he was not allowed to say whether C.B. had been removed from life support or even confirm the child had been in the custody of DCF.

    "All I can say is that in situations like this, medical professionals would play a key role and we would want to involve the family as much as possible," Dale said.

    On Monday, Sand said he would hold off filing any new charges until his office received results from an autopsy being conducted in New Hampshire.

    "We will wait and see all of the medical records before deciding if any additional charges will be filed," Sand said.

    Sleigh could not be reached for comment. An answering machine message stated Sleigh's St. Johnsbury office is closed until Aug. 18.

    Michael Mello, a professor of law at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, said the baby's death has simplified what might have been a very complicated case.

    "Before the child died, it looked as if it was shaping up to be a fascinating set of ethical issues involving questions of medical treatment and terminating life support," Mello said. "Typically, parents have a very strong say — if not the final say — in their children's medical decisions, but it becomes murky when one of the parents is accused of hurting the child."

    Mello lauded Sand's decision to wait until he had all available evidence before deciding whether to file additional charges.

    "I'd just offer my general caveat against rushing to judgment," Mello said. "There's a temptation to think that because a death occurred — and especially a child's death — it must be a murder. We won't know what happened until we have all the facts."

    Contact Josh O'Gorman at josh.ogorman@rutlandherald.com.

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