An upstate New York teen has reportedly admitted killing his nearly 8-week-old son by punching and biting the infant and then holding the baby underwater.
Tyler Zaugg, 19, was originally indicted on July 9, 2021, on one count of first-degree assault (involving circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life), two counts of second-degree assault (with intent to cause physical injury to a person less than seven years old), and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. The second-degree assault charges involved incidents on June 29 and between July 2 and July 4, 2021, according to Warren County court records obtained by Law&Crime last summer. The charges were Class B, Class D, Class D, and Class A felonies, respectively. Bail was set at $100,000 cash or $300,000 bond.
The baby had been born on May 10, 2021, the court records indicate. He died on July 16, 2021.
Earlier documents suggest prosecutors at one point accused Zaugg of two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Zaugg’s charges were eventually upgraded to manslaughter and assault, and Zaugg pleaded guilty to those counts on Tuesday, according to Albany NBC affiliate WNYT. The television station identified the infant only by the name “Noah.”
According to police reports obtained by Law&Crime, Zaugg was accused of striking the infant, who was under two months old, “in the face with a closed fist causing the victim to sustain a significant brain injury.” The injury allegedly “created a grave risk of death to the victim.” The reports also accused the defendant of striking the victim “in the torso with a closed fist causing the victim to suffer multiple fractured ribs and substantial risk of danger to his life and health.”
Included in the case file was a statement given to the police by Zaugg’s girlfriend — the infant’s mother.
The statement, which appears to have been given on July 5, 2021, said that between 5:49 p.m. and 5:53 p.m. on that date, “I had four missed calls from my boyfriend.”
“I called Tyler back at 5:53 p.m. and Tyler told me he was giving [the baby] a bath and he slipped under the water,” said the girlfriend in the police report. (She was identified by the Glens Falls Post-Star as Delaney Locke.) “He told me [the baby] wasn’t moving and I needed to come home. I hung up and called him back and told him to call 911.”
The resulting 911 call came in just before 6:00 p.m., the Post-Star said. First responders immediately noticed that the infant had “life-threatening injuries,” the newspaper reported.
Zaugg’s girlfriend’s mother drove her to the emergency room of Glens Falls Hospital. Staffers there asked the girlfriend about bruises on the infant’s body.
“I did notice bruised [sic] on [the baby’s] head and forehead and face and stomach and I never saw him hurt himself,” Locke continued. “The injuries only started about two weeks ago. I have never seen Tyler do anything bad to [the baby].”
Locke then noted that Tyler was fired from his job at a local Walmart “for calling to [sic] many times.”
According to the police reports, the infant’s mother then told the police the baby’s birth “wasn’t a planned pregnancy” and that “Tyler wasn’t happy at first.” The mother said Tyler “is great with” the baby, but she also claimed “Tyler has made comments in the past that if a child is abuse [sic] they always blame the dad.”
“I asked Tyler once what was going on and if he did anything to [the baby] and he got really upset with me,” the mother — reportedly Locke — continued. “I did tell Tyler NOT to give [the baby] a bath tonight until I got home from my mother’s.”
The infant’s name is redacted from the police reports. The Post-Star said the baby clung to life in the hospital for “almost two weeks” before ultimately “succumbing to his injuries.” WNYT reported that part of Zaugg’s plea included an admission that he had, indeed, “held the infant underwater.”
The court records sometimes list Zaugg’s address at a Broad Street apartment in Glens Falls and sometimes at a Lake Luzerne address across the Hudson River from Corinth.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 7, 2022. Zaugg is expected to be sentenced to 32 years in prison plus an additional five years of post-release supervision, the Post-Star noted.
Read some of the Zaugg case file below:
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