Lehigh Valley

Police accuse father of fracturing infant's skull

26-year-old said baby bumped head on rocking chair

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. - A 26-year-old Northampton man is facing aggravated assault charges for allegedly fracturing the skull of his month-old baby.

Northampton Borough police charged Derek J. Knight, of Main Street, with three felony counts of aggravated assault and single counts of child endangerment and simple assault in connection with incident that occurred in January. District Judge Robert Hawke arraigned Knight Thursday afternoon, setting bail at $150,000.

Borough police were contacted on Jan. 12 by a caseworker with the Northampton County Division of Children, Youth and Families, who was dispatched to Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest for a 33-day-old child with a skull fracture.

Knight had allegedly told medical staff that the baby struck its head on the arm of a rocking chair, while he was holding the child, according to court records. He agreed to be interviewed at police headquarters about a week later.

Knight told investigators that his girlfriend, the baby’s mother, had left for work earlier that day. After feeding the baby, Knight said he sat in the rocking chair, holding the infant in one arm and texting his girlfriend with the opposite hand.

He told investigators that something startled the baby, which caused it jerk, throw its hands up and hit its head on the arm of the rocking chair, according to court records. The infant immediately began crying, and Knight reported seeing a lump on the child’s head.

During the initial interview with the county official, Knight allegedly admitted to heavy drug use in the past, but said he only smokes pot now for his ADHD, police said. He told investigators that had smoked weed about three days before the incident.

He also told authorities that he had moved in with his girlfriend once he found out she was pregnant, but moved out in September or October because they had been arguing.

During a second interview, Knight reenacted for police how he claimed the injury happened, using the actual rocking chair. The treating physician told police that Knight’s explanation didn’t square with the child’s injuries, which were consistent with “violent, adult force.”

Knight failed to post bail and was sent to Northampton County Prison to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 4. If he posts bail, Knight is forbidden from having contact with the baby and must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and anger management training.

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