Adopting dad held in death of infant

Date: 2006-02-11

Byline: Martha Deller

Feb. 11--A 42-year-old Cleburne man was arrested Friday in connection with the death of a baby he and his wife were adopting. The infant's twin and an older child were later removed from the home by state child abuse investigators, authorities said.

David Michael Giddens was arrested on a charge of injury to child by omission resulting in death after the medical examiner found that 12-week-old Nicholas Hoffert suffered head injuries near the time of his death Thursday, a Cleburne police spokeswoman said.

Giddens is being held in the Johnson County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

In a written statement, Giddens' family said the baby's death was accidental.

"David, our son and brother, is a good man and loving father who suffers from multiple sclerosis," said the statement, released by Giddens' father, Roy Giddens Jr., and brother, Doug Giddens. "We make no excuses for his alleged actions, but firmly believe that this tragic death was accidental."

Cleburne police Sgt. Amy Knoll said investigators have determined that the baby was struck at least twice.

"This is not an accidental death," Knoll said.

The Giddens family declined to comment beyond the written statement issued Friday.

Knoll said police did not suspect foul play in the baby's death when David Giddens' wife, Latresa, called 911 about 2:15 a.m. Thursday to report that the baby had stopped breathing.

Arriving police and paramedics took over CPR from family members, Knoll said. When those efforts failed, the baby was pronounced dead and taken to the Johnson County medical examiner's office, whose preliminary investigation revealed the head injuries, she said.

Cleburne police then launched the investigation, which led to David Giddens' arrest, Knoll said. Police are continuing their investigation while awaiting the final autopsy report, she said.

Meanwhile, case workers from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services took custody of Nicholas' twin and the Giddenses' 9-year-old daughter late Friday, a spokeswoman said.

David and Latresa Giddens apparently were adopting the twins, who were born Nov. 19 in Michigan, according to police and state officials.

Protective services spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said the department had closed an unsubstantiated allegation of abuse or neglect against the Giddens family several years ago involving the family's older child, who also is adopted.

Gonzales said the earlier complaint was not a factor in the department's decision to remove the children Friday.

"We're concerned about the way the child died because it was a very young child and preliminary reports indicate it was a very serious injury to that child," she said.

Gonzales said the two children will be checked determine if they were abused or neglected, and then they will be placed in foster care.

A judge will decide within 14 days whether they will be returned to their mother, placed with a relative or kept in foster care, she said.

Staff writer Bill Miller contributed to this report.

Martha Deller, (817) 390-7857


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