Police: Father booked with murder in death of baby

Curtis King
Curtis King

A Baton Rouge man was arrested Monday in the death of his 6-month-old son and accused of a pattern of neglect that included placing the baby in scalding bath water that left him with burns on more than 80 percent of his body.

Curtis King, 23, 11888 Longridge Ave., was booked on counts of second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile in the Nov. 6 death of Aiden King.

He also is accused of selling drugs out of his home and storing marijuana in the newborn’s closet.

In late May, when Aiden was just a month old, he suffered second- and third-degree burns while in the care of his father, said Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa, a Baton Rouge police spokeswoman.

Placing the baby in the hot water was “a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonable man,” Detective Zac Woodring wrote in an arrest document.

Aiden was airlifted to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, Texas, where he was in critical condition. He survived his wounds but received permanent scarring and had to undergo multiple skin grafts, according to court records.

“Also located at the time were multiple healing rib fractures,” Woodring added, a sign of previous abuse.

Detectives went to Galveston during their investigation of the burns, Godawa said, but they were unable to establish probable cause for an arrest at the time.

Despite the burning incident, the child was released at some point to his parents, King and Daria Thomas, Godawa said.

“Baton Rouge police detectives were not informed that the child was being placed back at home,” she added.

Lindsey deBlieux, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency is working with authorities to investigate Aiden’s death but did not have an open case with his family when he was found unresponsive at his home late last month.

After Aiden was burned in the tub, deBlieux said, “DCFS did not receive any evidence or medical reports that indicated additional safety or abuse risks were present, and the case was closed on Aug. 2.

“At the time of the case closure, the child was still under the care of a physician from Shriners Hospital in Galveston,” she added. “Aiden did not enter DCFS custody.”

Officers responded to King’s residence Oct. 29 after the baby was found unresponsive.

King left the child unattended and behind a closed door on an adult-size bed while King was in another room separating marijuana to sell, authorities said.

King later fell asleep on the bed next to the child, Godawa added, and said when he awoke, the child had become unresponsive.

The baby was taken to a hospital where he remained on life support until Nov. 6.

“Detectives determined that the child suffered injuries that were consistent with abuse and neglect which ultimately led to the death of Aiden King,” Godawa said. Officers searching King’s residence found a digital scale and a clear plastic bag containing suspected marijuana seeds in the closet of the baby’s bedroom, according to an affidavit.

King admitted selling marijuana “to make enough money to pay the bills,” the document says.

The authorities found a black bookbag in the baby’s closet containing more than 13 ounces of marijuana and about 50 dosage units of THC pills.

They found $287 cash in a shoebox in King’s room, the affidavit says.

King was booked with possession with intent to distribute marijuana after the search but later posted bail.

He was re-arrested on the murder count Monday.

While detectives accused King of murder, Dr. Beau Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner, said he has not yet determined the cause or manner of Aiden’s death.

“We’ve got a lot to rule out before we can make a firm conclusion,” Clark said. “I haven’t concluded my investigation yet.”