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Medford father guilty of assaulting infant son

A Medford man admitted he injured his infant son and pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment in Jackson County Circuit Court Wednesday morning.

Dion Ryan Meadows, 34, who has no criminal record, said little as he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years' probation by Judge Ray White in accordance with a plea agreement hammered out between prosecutors and Meadows' lawyer.

Meadows was home alone with his three children on June 7, 2008. Suffering from mental illness, Meadows had lost his job, stopped taking his medicine and was stressed and sleep-deprived when he shook the crying baby, striking its head on the carpeted floor, said Beth Heckert, chief deputy district attorney.

"He was suicidal in the recent past," said Heckert. "But he was by all counts a fine father before this."

Meadows felt immediate remorse for his actions and tried to help his 3-month-old boy. After applying ice to the lump on the baby's skull, Meadows called 9-1-1, originally saying he had fallen with the child, said Heckert.

The infant was rushed to Rogue Valley Medical Center for treatment of a skull fracture. He was treated, released after a brief stay and has suffered no lasting damage from the assault, Heckert said.

"We are thankful the child is doing fine," she said.

But paramedics, concerned about the living conditions they saw and the injury, called police for a welfare check. An officer interviewed the fire crew and Meadows, then took Meadows into custody and called a detective.

"He told police, 'You're here to arrest me,' " said Heckert.

Originally charged with three counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment, Meadows has been in jail since his June arrest. He will get credit for time served.

Meadows is prohibited by the court from seeing his children until the Department of Human Services deems he may have visitation rights, said White.

White said he agreed to the terms of the plea agreement because of Meadows' lack of criminal history and because of the "compelling circumstances" surrounding the actions of the father of three.

"You will likely be released from custody today," said White.

The child's mother, Christine Vivian Kenmoen, was not home when the assault occurred. Kenmoen was charged with three counts of criminal mistreatment because of the home's unhealthy condition. In October 2008, she pleaded guilty to two of the three counts before Circuit Court Judge Patricia Crain. The third count of criminal mistreatment was dismissed. Kenmoen received 22 months' probation and served 16 hours of community service.

The children remain in the custody of the state, but are currently living with Kenmoen and her mother, Heckert said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.