Man charged after alleged assault of baby, woman
AUSTIN — A rural Austin man has been charged with multiple felonies after police say he assaulted his girlfriend and broke two of his infant son's ribs.
Luke Dale Freland, 32, has been charged with two counts each of malicious punishment of a child and domestic assault, as well as single counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and terroristic threats.
He made his first appearance Friday in Mower County District Court and remains in custody in lieu of $100,000 bond. Freland's next court date has been set for Dec. 31.
The case began about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, when members of law enforcement were asked to find Freland after he reportedly assaulted a woman with a knife at their home, then left.
Deputies responded to the home, where the victim said Freland had grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against a cupboard. The incident was sparked when the couple's 1-month-old woke them up, crying; the woman said Freland "kept grabbing" the baby, which made the infant "scream really loud."
According to the criminal complaint, Freland pushed or pinched an area on the baby's throat. The woman told him to stop, but when the couple began to fight, Freland "kept trying to put (the infant) in the middle of it," the report says.
Freland then allegedly grabbed the woman by the hair, shoved her against the counter, then threw her to the floor. He grabbed her by the throat and squeezed it, placed his hand over her mouth and said he would "keep doing it until you pass out and no one can hear you," court documents say.
During the fight, Freland reportedly took a knife from the kitchen sink and said, "get back upstairs or I will slit your throat," then dragged the victim upstairs by the hair. When the woman tried to get out to the balcony and scream, Freland put her in a chokehold, the complaint says; she kicked, bit and hit at Freland to get away.
He allegedly left, taking the woman's phone with him; deputies found Freland a few hours later at his mother's home, where he was arrested.
The woman and the infant both were taken to the hospital for evaluation, and the baby was transferred to Rochester for further tests, which revealed fractures to two ribs. The medical report classified them as "non-accidental trauma."
According to the criminal complaint, the woman told authorities Freland "squeezes (the baby's) sides, throws him in the air and pushes on his neck to stop his crying." Hospital staff reported the infant has bruises on his arms, legs, back, side and abdomen.
The woman's injuries were listed as a cut lip, bruises on her arm and back, a scratch on her face and red marks on her neck.
Freland told investigators that the couple had argued that morning but allegedly admitted he uses methamphetamine and couldn't remember what had happened. He denied assaulting the woman and the baby but said he defended himself from the woman.
A review of Freland's criminal history reflects two previous convictions for domestic assault and two convictions for harassment.