Court Records Show Man Charged In Infant’s Death Has Past Allegations Of Child Abuse

infant death imageCOLDWATER, Mich. (June 3, 2014) — The man accused of killing a 7-month-old boy has past allegations of child abuse, according to Branch County court records.

Steven Shaw, 41, was arrested June 1 in the death of Carson Burm. On May 29, a 911 call came in from Shaw, who said the boy wasn’t breathing. Carson was airlifted to Bronson Hospital, where he died Friday morning. Doctors said the baby’s death was the result of shaken baby syndrome and head trauma.

FOX 17 has learned Shaw has two children of his own who were placed into foster care. A child protective services worker testified during a custody hearing for Carson’s older sister on May 30 that she spoke in April with the boy’s mother, Laura Kidney, about Shaw’s past.  The worker said she didn’t go into details with Kidney due to concerns about confidentiality. However, Kidney said she was aware that Shaw lost custody of his children, the case worker said. The case worker warned Kidney that he shouldn’t be around other kids, especially when unsupervised.

Carson and his older sister were home alone with Shaw when the incident happened. Records show Kidney left work two hours before the 911 call was made.

The case worker said she spoke with Kidney on a second occasion. This time, Shaw was present, which gave the worker the opportunity to go into details about his past. Still, she said, Kidney told her she never felt her children were in any danger. Kidney also stated that she was going to continue leaving her children under Shaw’s care, the case worker said.

In the video from the custody hearing where the worker took the stand, Carson’s biological father, Vic Burm, can be seen asking the worker why, if she thought Shaw was a threat, she allowed his kids to stay in the home. The worker answered that Shaw didn’t have a history of abuse against children.

However, court documents reveal, there was a report of abuse in 2012. Shaw visited his children without permission after he lost custody. The mother was there and reported that she heard her daughter screaming in another room. When she checked on her, Shaw was holding the girl under her arms. Police came to the home and took a statement from the little girl, who reported that Shaw “choked her and stated that he was going to kill her.” The documents show that the case was sent to the prosecutor’s office with a request for charges. No record of an arrest could be found.

A neighbor says she has never noticed Shaw being abusive toward Kidney’s children. Genevieve Spence lives in the same Coldwater apartment complex as Kidney. She said she came home on May 29 and, looking through Kidney’s screen door, she saw Carson lying on the floor. “Steve was actually doing CPR on the baby,” Spence said. “I asked him if he was okay, if he needed any help. He told me he didn’t need any audience … and then he told me to go upstairs.”

Records also show that this may not be the first time Carson was abused. On May 13, the baby was taken to Community Health Center in Branch County after his mother discovered he was bleeding from the ears. Carson was treated for a double ear infection and placed on antibiotics. Upon his death, another doctor from Bronson Hospital described the bleeding as “suspicious,” and said “blood coming from the ears is not caused by ear infections.” The doctor further stated the situation should have been investigated for head trauma.

Child Protection Services is requesting that Kidney’s parental rights be terminated regarding Carson’s older sister. The girl was taken into protective custody on May 29 and placed with family.

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