Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mothers Hold Prayer Vigil for Injured Baby as Wentzville Man Faces Judge for First Time

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mothers Hold Prayer Vigil for Injured Baby as Wentzville Man Faces Judge for First Time

Article excerpt

ST. CHARLES * A Wentzville man accused of critically injuring his infant son in a horrific case of abuse appeared by video in St. Charles County court here Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the 7-week-old baby clings to life at a hospital, suffering from bleeding on the brain and broken bones, among other injuries.

The boy's father, Robert James Burnette, 19, briefly answered questions from a judge during his initial hearing Tuesday morning. He said he was seeking a public defender.

Burnette told Associate Circuit Judge Matthew Thornhill that he had a history of bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. Burnette, who is on suicide watch at the St. Charles County Jail, said he'd been seeking medication and counseling.

Thornhill asked Burnette if he understood the seriousness of the charges. "Uh, yes," Burnette replied.

His bail remained set at $500,000, cash-only. Burnette's next hearing was set for Nov. 22.

The baby's mother, Megan L. Hendricks, 20, also made a brief appearance by video Tuesday morning. Authorities say she witnessed the abuse and made no effort to get help. She faces the same felony abuse charge and was held with bail set at $250,000, cash-only.

The charge means she is "equally responsible," Thornhill told her during her hearing. "It's a very serious charge. You could do up to 15 years. That's not in the jail where you are, it's the big house."

She told the judge she was trying to hire an attorney. Her next hearing was also set for Nov. 22.

'WE'RE ASKING FOR PRAYERS'

Outside the courthouse Tuesday morning, about two dozen people held a prayer vigil for a baby they've never met. The boy has been identified only as J.B. in court documents, but social media posts identify him as Jaxon James Burnette.

Some mothers in the group held blue balloons and bounced toddlers on their hips. Others held handmade poster board signs that said "Justice for Jax. …

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