AUGUSTA — An Augusta man charged with seriously injuring his baby daughter was pulled over by police on Dec. 21 as he drove to get help for her.
“He did seek to bring his child to get help,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Monday. “He ran a stop sign and was pulled over by police.”
Maloney made those comments shortly after Kevin Michael Peaslee, 21, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of assault, all related to an incident Dec. 21 at the apartment Peaslee and the baby’s mother, Virginia Trask, 17, shared on Capitol Street.
During the traffic stop, a police officer saw medical attention was needed and brought the baby and Peaslee to a nearby fire station, Deputy Chief Jared Mills of the Augusta Police Department said Monday.
Peaslee denies state allegations that he violently shook his 6-month-old daughter, Aleah M. Peaslee, and left her with serious permanent injuries.
Defense attorney Lisa Whittier, who represented him as lawyer of the day, also told the judge she did not believe that all the medical evidence was in yet about the baby’s condition, suggesting the seriousness of the baby’s injuries is not yet fully known.
“I think Ms. Maloney is over-speaking about what the lifelong conditions of this baby is going to be,” Whittier said.
Aleah, born in Augusta in June, is reportedly in Maine Medical Center in Portland suffering from brain injuries and blindness.
Peaslee was arraigned Monday on the indictment in Augusta District Court via video link with Kennebec County jail.
Judge Charles Dow entered a plea of not guilty on Peaslee’s behalf. Peaslee was arrested Friday in Augusta, shortly after a grand jury in Kennebec County handed up the indictment.
There are no documents filed in the court except for the indictment, and Maloney said she was unable to provide all the details.
However, she said the injuries occurred during the day and that it came to the attention of law enforcement almost immediately when Peaslee was stopped at 2:51 p.m. by Augusta police at the intersection of Capitol Street and Capitol Street extension.
Mills said Officer Peter Cloutier made the traffic stop and immediately sought medical assistance for the baby.
“After calling rescue, the officer realized he could see the fire station at Armory and Western Avenue, so he drove the father and infant to the fire station rather than wait,” Mills said.
On Monday, the dark-haired, bearded Peaslee wore an orange V-necked jail uniform and stood next to Whittier.
Maloney asked Dow to keep bail at $25,000 cash, which was set with the initial warrant.
“The child in question was only 6 months old and is still struggling with injuries and will have injuries for the rest of her life,” she told Dow.
However, Whittier said neither Peaslee nor his parents can post $25,000 cash bail, and she requested a surety alternative. Dow agreed to an alternative bail of $50,000 worth of real estate, but said both bails would require Peaslee to be under a Maine Pretrial Supervision Program contract.
Whittier said that if freed on bail, Peaslee would live at his parents’ Weeks Mills Road home.
Maloney objected, saying that Trask is living there. Whittier countered by saying there were other places Trask could live.
Whittier said Peaslee’s doctor had scheduled him for a diagnostic evaluation Tuesday because of mental health issues.
“Mr. Peaslee has been very cooperative since the beginning of this case,” she said. “He is a high school graduate and he is seeking a job. He is not a threat to the judicial process, he is not a threat to society, and he is not a flight risk of any sort.”
Peaslee said he did not intend to apply for court-appointed counsel and expected his parents, who were sitting on a bench at the rear of the courtroom, to hire one to represent him in the charges.
However, he later agreed to the judge’s suggestion that he fill out the paperwork for a court-appointed lawyer.
Other conditions of bail ban Peaslee from contact with Trask and with his daughter and subject him to a curfew of 8 p.m.-6 a.m.
Outside the court hearing, Maloney said that Trask was not at home, but at work when the baby was injured. She also said the state Department of Health and Human Services is looking into the case.
Shortly after Peaslee’s arrest Maloney said, “Shaking a baby is a horrific crime that often leads to death. In this case the 6-month-old little girl will be blind for life among other serious health consequences. Never shake a baby. Call for help if you feel yourself losing control.”
Maloney said she prefers a high bail.
“I think that in a case as serious as this one that a person should be held until the trial date,” Maloney said.
She also said that officials learned Peaslee and Trask had been given a video or seen a video in the hospital after the baby was born that warns about the dangers of shaking an infant.
“Parenting is the most difficult job there is,” she said, adding that the consequences for the baby can be lifelong.