Provo couple charged with killing baby
Crime • Police say mother knew of alleged abuse of boy.
Published: October 10, 2013 03:13PM
Updated: October 10, 2013 09:14PM
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Joshua Jay Harding

A Provo couple was charged Thursday with causing the death last year of 3-month-old Paxton Stokes.

Paxton’s mother Brianna Brown, 29, and her live-in boyfriend, Joshua Harding, 30, were each charged in 4th District Court with child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony.

Investigators allege Harding told police that on Nov. 27, 2012 he had taken the baby upstairs to change a diaper when the infant began crying. Harding allegedly claimed that after attempting to calm the child with a pacifier and a bottle, he finally left him in a bassinet to cry himself to sleep.

Harding claimed that when Brown went to check on the infant 20 minutes later, she found him unresponsive and not breathing.

However, the medical examiner found bruising on the baby’s left forehead, face and neck, as well as bruising and abrasions to the baby’s left leg and hip, police said.

While Harding maintained he had done nothing to hurt the baby, the medical examiner’s final report declared the cause of death as a “closed head injury,” and the manner of death as homicide. Police said the baby appeared to have suffered from blunt trauma to the head.

Police said Brown was arrested one day after Harding last week because investigators managed to piece together additional information that implicated her as well. Investigators believe Brown most likely knew that the child was being injured.

In addition to the homicide charge, Brown was also charged with two counts of permitting a child to be exposed to a controlled substance, both third-degree felonies, and child abuse, a second-degree felony.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle