ALFRED — Irving Faunce held his dying grandson in his arms, stared into the boy’s unseeing eyes and made two promises.

“My wife and I would do whatever we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Faunce said Friday. “I also promised that we would work on his behalf to make sure that those who should be accountable (for) what had happened to him are held accountable.”

Faunce, of Wilton, spoke about his final encounter with Ethan Henderson with reporters outside the York County Courthouse. Inside, Faunce’s son, Gordon Collins-Faunce of Arundel, had just been formally charged with murdering Ethan, his infant son. Collins-Faunce and Ethan’s mother, Christine Henderson, are former Farmington residents.

According to court papers, Collins-Faunce told police that he was frustrated by Ethan’s crying and, after returning from smoking a cigarette outside his mobile home on Limerick Road, he grabbed Ethan by the head, squeezed it and threw him into a chair.

At 10 weeks old, Ethan would have weighed about 10 pounds and the bones of his skull were not fully formed.

Collins-Faunce, 23, made a brief appearance in the courtroom. Wearing a blue button-down shirt and tan khaki pants, he stood silently as the charge was read to him by Justice John O’Neil.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese asked that a psychological evaluation be done by the State Forensic Service. While the prosecution and the defense agree that Collins-Faunce is competent to stand trial, the evaluation will assess the extent, if any, of psychological problems that might diminish his criminal responsibility.

Prosecutors seek to get such evaluations as soon after an incident as possible. Marchese said Collins-Faunce has indicated he has post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in the military, though family members say he did not serve in combat or ship out overseas, and he was absent without leave for part of his enlistment.

Prosecutors plan to present their case against Collins-Faunce to a York County grand jury when it meets next month, to secure an indictment. His lawyer, Amy Fairfield, did not argue that police lacked probable cause to arrest her client.

Collins-Faunce continues to be held in the York County Jail on $100,000 bail.

Irving Faunce, former mayor of Gardiner and Wilton selectman, and a health care consultant, adopted Collins-Faunce when he was 8 and had spent several years in foster care. Authorities say Collins-Faunce was abused in foster care.

Faunce made no excuses for his son Friday, but said he attended the hearing to stand with his son and make sure he has a vigorous defense.

Faunce also described his final hours with Ethan, and how he participated in the infant’s baptism in the special care unit of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland.

“Ethan was severely injured. It was clear what was going to happen. It was clear how irreversible the injury was,” Faunce said. “Ethan was so injured that he was blind.”

Faunce said he wants to make sure that the people and organizations that might have been in a position to prevent the tragedy are held to account. If Ethan received medical care for a broken arm six weeks earlier — as Collins-Faunce described to him — somebody should have reported it, Faunce said.

If the state Department of Health and Human Services had reports of possible abuse in the house — which court papers indicate — it should have acted, he said.

The court papers do not say when the DHHS was notified about injuries or neglect of Ethan and others in the house. The department has declined to comment on the timing because of the criminal investigation.

Faunce said that after Ethan was taken off the ventilator, he breathed on his own. “I looked in his eyes and told him that he didn’t deserve any of this,” Faunce said.

“It was a gift to me to be able to share those hours with Ethan, and I want to share that with everybody — and share the incredible pain of all of this and to hold, during this horrible process, this horrendous crime, to hold the face of Ethan in front of me,” Faunce said.

“And I hope others can do that,” he said. “This is about Ethan.”

 


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