Father is arraigned in abuse case

ESCANABA — An Escanaba man was officially charged Monday with first-degree child abuse for allegedly physically harming his 8-month-old son, who was treated at the local emergency room then transferred to a Wisconsin hospital Friday.

Jerry Jay Munger III, 22, of 213 Stephenson Ave., Escanaba, was arrested by Escanaba Public Safety following Friday’s initial investigation into a suspected child abuse incident. He remains lodged in the Delta County Jail.

OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital had notified police about the infant, who was brought to the emergency room with signs of physical child abuse. The boy was later transferred to St. Vincent Children’s Hospital in Green Bay for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Munger was arrested after police questioned him and the child’s 21-year-old mother, who has not been charged criminally. The parents, who are facing civil charges, had brought their son to the emergency room shortly before 1 p.m. Friday.

Munger was arraigned on the life felony child abuse charge in Delta County District Court on Monday when Judge Steve Parks increased the defendant’s cash/surety bond from $500,000 to $650,000. He is scheduled for a probable cause hearing in district court on Feb. 8 and a preliminary examination in district court on Feb. 15.

During a preliminary hearing, the judge will determine if there is probable cause a crime was committed and if the defendant was involved in the crime. If so, the case is then bound over to circuit court where the defendant may make a plea or schedule a trial.

According to Delta County Prosecutor Philip Strom, the child has been discharged from the Green Bay hospital. He was placed under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) after probate court granted an emergency removal of the boy from his home as requested by the prosecutor on Monday.

Strom said he has also filed a petition for probate court to take jurisdiction over the child and the family due to a substantial risk of harm to the child being under the care of the parents, who did not care for the boy’s injuries in a reasonable time frame and due to the family’s home being unfit for the child to live there.

The parents’ preliminary hearing will continue in probate court on Feb. 8 with the prosecution presenting evidence to support the above allegations against the parents who have each been appointed an attorney. Depending on the court’s ruling and whether or not the parents contest the charges, the parents could request a jury trial or a bench trail regarding jurisdiction of their child.

A petition was also filed with the court to immediately terminate the parental rights of both parents due to the father’s intentional abuse causing serious injury to the child and due to the mother failing to protect the boy from the other parent’s physical abuse, explained Strom.

In the meantime, DHHS will seek to place the child in an acceptable relative’s home or a licensed foster care home, Strom added.

— — —

Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net