Father charged in baby's death; Police say boy was dropped in tub

Relates to:
Date: 2004-03-19

Author: Paul Gustafson

Staff Writer

Steven D. Showcatally and his wife had tried for four long years to adopt a child before they finally got Gustavo, an infant boy from Guatemala, in November.

But the St. Paul family's new life took a devastating turn Tuesday afternoon when Showcatally told police he lost his patience when the child soiled himself again just after the father had given him a bath.

Three hours later, 7-month-old Gustavo Hunt was dead from severe head injuries he suffered when his new dad dropped him into a bathtub three times, twice intentionally, according to a criminal complaint.

On Thursday, Showcatally, 34, was charged with unintentional second-degree murder in his son's death.

He will make his first appearance in Ramsey County District Court today.

Although St. Paul police are continuing to investigate, they have found no reports of prior abuse of the boy, said Sgt. Jane Laurence, a homicide investigator.

Police say they believe the father and son were alone at the family's townhouse in the 2000 block of Grand Av. when the boy received his fatal injuries.

Showcatally's wife, Gail Hunt, told police that he called her about 5 p.m. Tuesday, and that she could tell from the tone of his voice that something was wrong.

He told her that there had been an accident in the bathtub, and that the boy's head was starting to swell, she said.

She told him to take the boy to St. Paul Children's Hospital and she would meet them there.

Hospital personnel told police that the infant's severe head injuries, including multiple skull fractures and multiple hemorrhages beneath his scalp, were not consistent with Showcatally's story that he accidently dropped the child in the bathtub.

Showcatally told police that the boy was uninjured when he picked him up from a day care about 3 p.m. Tuesday. He said that the boy had diarrhea and soiled the clothing he was wearing, and that he gave his son a bath when they returned home.

After the bath, the boy soiled a towel in which he was wrapped, then had another bowel movement on a carpet, the father said.

After giving the boy a second bath, Showcatally said, he accidentally dropped the boy in the tub, but said he carried him into a bedroom and did not notice anything odd.

After police challenged his story because of the severity of his son's injuries, Showcatally hung his head and nodded, and said he was sure that whatever the doctors said was true.

Then he told police that he intentionally dropped the boy two more times and that he was responsible for the injuries, according to the complaint.

Showcatally said he laid his son on the carpet, and noticed his eyes were twitching and rolling back in his head. He then called his wife and took the boy to the hospital.

The Ramsey County medical examiner's office determined that the boy died of cranio-cerebral injuries, and ruled his death a homicide.

Paul Gustafson is at pgustafson@startribune.com.



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