Trial date set for man in assault on baby daughter

Thomas N. Caldwell is accused of breaking her ribs last fall.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man pleaded innocent Tuesday afternoon to a criminal charge accusing him of breaking the ribs of his infant daughter.

Thomas N. Caldwell, 34, of 708 S. College Ave., No. 204, College Place, is set for trial July 16 in Walla Walla County Superior Court on the charge of first-degree assault of a child.

Officials believe Caldwell forcibly grabbed and squeezed his baby -- breaking seven of her ribs -- probably around the end of October or first of November when she was 7-71/2 months old.

The injuries came to light when the child's mother, Amber D. Dublinski, took her to Walla Walla General Hospital on Jan. 9 because she wasn't thriving.

X-rays revealed the baby's injuries, which were in the healing stage, and authorities were notified.

Caldwell gave differing accounts of how the injuries could have occurred, Walla Walla police said.

He eventually admitted hurting his daughter, but said it was an accident. He reportedly told police he was drunk when he went to the College Place apartment after a Halloween party, tripped over something, fell forward and landed with his elbow on the stomach of the baby, who was in a bassinet.

A subsequent report by a child protection team at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle determined that falling into a bassinet doesn't explain the child's injuries, according to a Walla Walla police report filed in court.

Caldwell, 34, was arrested in College Place on May 15 and booked into the Walla Walla County Jail. Bail initially was set at $25,000, but later was increased to $75,000.

The child reportedly now is in foster care and doing well.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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