Brewer father accused of 'violently shaking' baby indicted for manslaughter

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The Brewer father accused of killing his six-week old son was indicted Wednesday by the Penobscot County grand jury on one count of manslaughter.

Ronald Harding, 36, remains free on $3,000 cash bail. Conditions include having no contact with his wife or any children under the age of 12, not possessing dangerous weapons and a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless he must be gone overnight for work.

The indictment paves the way for Harding's arraignment, though an arraignment date has not been set.

The affidavit in the case remained sealed Wednesday.

Harding called 911 on Memorial Day to report that his infant was unresponsive and not breathing, according to Maine State Police. The boy was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in critical condition and was pronounced dead on June 1.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said at Harding's first court appearance on June 4 that the baby died from being shaken violently.

Harding was handed a "happy, cooing baby" and 15 minutes later the boy was unresponsive and his parents were calling 911.

Harding has no criminal history

A trial is not expected to be held before next year due to the tremendous backlog of criminal cases stemming from the curtailment of court activities during the pandemic.

If convicted, Harding faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 for manslaughter.

Harding's 6-week-old son was the first of three young Maine children to die in June, allegedly killed by parents.

Just days after Harding allegedly shook his baby to death, Hillary Goding was charged with manslaughter in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Hailey, in Old Town. Prosecutors have not released the girl's cause of death.

On June 20, 3-year-old Maddox Williams was pronounced dead at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. His mother, Jessica Trefethen, is charged with murder in his death. The Maine Medical Examiner's Office determined he died from multiple blunt force trauma that was inflicted non-accidentally.

The boy had suffered a fractured spine, bruises on his arms, legs, belly and head, bleeding in his brain, a ruptured bowel and other injuries, according to court documents.

The three deaths, along with the death of another young child in Temple from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, have focused new scrutiny on Maine's child welfare system that was under similar scrutiny three years ago following the deaths of 4-year-old Kendall Chick and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy at the hands of their caregivers.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said last week it will bring in a national organization, Casey Family Programs, to investigate the deaths of the four children under four in less than a month.