Melrose man accused of abusing 3-month-old baby

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A 25-year-old Melrose man is in jail, accused of abusing his baby
daughter after a medical examination last week revealed the infant had
numerous broken bones.

Phillip Holmes is charged with child abuse resulting in great bodily
harm, a first-degree felony. He is being held at the Curry County Adult
Detention Center on a $25,000 bond, jail officials said.

Health care workers called Clovis police to the emergency room at
Plains Regional Medical Center around noon March 5 to report what they
believed was the abuse of a 3-month-old girl.

A doctor told the officer based on X-rays she had taken, the only
possible explanation was that the child’s arms had been grabbed “with a
lot of force” and “torqued” until they broke. The doctor also told the
officer she found skull fractures, bleeding beneath the scalp and
broken ribs that had been healing for around three weeks, a police
report said.

Additionally, the doctor told the officer she found evidence that
indicated the baby was grabbed by the neck, causing the neck bones to
stretch.

When the officer spoke to family waiting in the hospital lobby,
Holmes’ son volunteered he knew how the baby got hurt and said his “dad
chokes (the baby).”

Police said a family member silenced the child before he said
anything further and told police they couldn’t use his statement
because he was an “unreliable source.”

Police said during an interview with the Melrose police chief and a
Clovis detective, Holmes initially said the baby had fallen off a bed
and was mauled by a puppy.

Police noted they found no injuries to the child that would be consistent with being mauled by a dog.

Holmes later changed his story and said he was in the kitchen
holding the baby while her mother was outside and accidentally dropped
the child, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Curry
County Magistrate Court.

The child’s mother said she called 911 after she came inside and
tried to feed her but became worried when the baby’s arms were unable
to hold the bottle and she cried when her arms were touched.

Holmes told police several times he didn’t mean to hurt the baby and that it was an accident, records show.

Holmes faces a March 26 preliminary hearing in Magistrate Court.
According to New Mexico statute, a first-degree felony is punishable by
up to 18 years imprisonment.