Man charged in death of disabled Cottonwood Heights toddler

Jake Jensen. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Prosecutors have filed child abuse charges against a Cottonwood Heights man whom police allege was responsible for the death of a disabled toddler in 2016.

Jake Jensen, 29, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Monday after a 20-month investigation concluded he was responsible for the injuries that preceded the 19-month-old girl’s death - including broken legs and head injuries.

Police reports only identify the toddler as S.M., and say the girl had a developmental disability related to a premature birth and cerebral palsy.

According to court documents, Jensen was caring for the child while his girlfriend was at work on the morning on Jan. 2, 2016. Jensen called paramedics to his home on S Virginia Hills Dr. in Cottonwood Heights when the child was having a seizure. The seizure stopped and Jensen and his girlfriend said they would take the baby to a pediatrician in the coming days, according to an incident report. Investigators allege the couple didn’t take the child to the doctor.

On Jan. 5, 2016, paramedics were again called to the Virginia Hills Dr. home when the baby was in “extreme distress.” The child was taken to the hospital where she reportedly never regained consciousness.

Life support was removed from the girl at 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2016 when it was clear there was no brain activity, according to charging documents.

A post-mortem investigation found signs of abuse, including fractures to the legs and “head and eye injuries”, according to investigators.

Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital told Cottonwood Heights Police the girl’s injuries were likely not accidental.

When police questioned Jensen about the girl’s injuries, they say he didn’t have answers for how the she was hurt.

“Given the facts that [the child’s] seizures happened two times while she was in the care of Jensen, that his accounts did not include any sufficient explanation for any of the subdural hemorrhages or the prior leg injuries, and the fact that his accounts of what occurred the early morning of January 5, 2016 were different from each other, [the physicians] believed [the child[ had been severely physically abused,” a probable cause statement reads.

The state medical examiner’s report ruled the toddler’s death a homicide.

Jensen is now held in the Salt Lake County Jail on $500,000 bail. He is charged with Child Abuse and Child Abuse Homicide. The child’s mother has not been charged with crimes relating to the child’s death.

Jensen is scheduled to appear in court on August 10 for an initial appearance hearing. No attorney for Jensen was registered with the court as of Tuesday morning.

Prevent Child Abuse Utah has a list of resources to help parents who may be in a stressful situation or need training on how to help their children. The organization also provides information on how to report suspect child abuse or neglect.

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