Mother of accused child abuser defends son, infant in critical condition


by & Cole Heath

Posted on July 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 25 at 5:16 PM

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – The mother of accused child abuser James Blanchard,19, describes her son as “gentle.”

Blanchard is behind bars after his infant was hospitalized with severe brain injuries. The baby is 20 days old.

Authorities say Blanchard shook the baby forcibly on multiple occasions. That is something Blanchard’s mother, Kelly Harbeck, cannot believe.

“He was always very gentle with him. That’s his pride of joy, that’s his son,” Harbeck said.

Investigators say the baby suffers from bleeding in the frontal lobe of the brain.

Police received a 911 call Sunday night. The caller said a 20-day-old baby was not breathing. First responders performed CPR. The infant was later airlifted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. He is listed in critical condition.

Investigators say Blanchard was home with the baby and did not call 911.

“The only reason why James would not have called 911 was because he panicked. He didn’t know what to do,” Harbeck said.

Prosecutors say they have talked to witnesses who will testify that in addition to shaking the baby, Blanchard would scream at the child.

“[He] haphazardly tossed the baby across the room, and on one occasion slammed the child down in the crib,” said Dave Robins, prosecutor for Kootenai County.

In court, Blanchard pleaded to be able to see his son again.

“Whatever I can do, I will do anything,” he said.

Blanchard is scheduled to be back in court in two weeks. His bond is set at $100,000.