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DECATUR — Prosecutors say a “frustrated” teenage Decatur father vented his feelings by heating a metal tobacco pipe and repeatedly burning the delicate skin of his own 2½-month-old baby daughter.

Jamonta R. Blythe, aged 19 now but 18 at the time of the alleged crimes in October, appeared in Macon County Circuit Court pleading not guilty. He is charged with aggravated battery to a child, aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery for also repeatedly pinching the baby’s flesh with his fingers.

Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Regan Radtke said Blythe had shared custody of his daughter with her mother and tried to explain away the injuries to the mother, and later the police, as “rug burns.” Later, questioned by detectives, police said he confessed to burning the baby with the heated end of the metal tobacco pipe. 

A child abuse specialist from the Pediatric Resource Center in Peoria listed second-degree burns to the baby’s right eyelid, right neck and left arm, according to a sworn Decatur Police affidavit. The specialist also found abrasions on the baby’s abdomen and feet and second-degree burns to her ankles, as well as several other wounds.

“And he does all this because he is ‘frustrated’,” Radtke told the jury. “Ladies and gentlemen, that is a crime.”

Defending, Michelle Sanders said no one was going to dispute that the baby was injured. But she advised the jury to listen carefully to the evidence — which they will also see on color pictures shown on a large TV screen in court — before jumping to any conclusions.

“What ultimately happened is going to be for you to determine,” added Sanders. “You are the jury, and you are going to hear the evidence and you are going to see the evidence ... the state is going to have to prove under the law, beyond a reasonable doubt, each charge.”

The trial continues today.


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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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