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Largo man accused of killing his infant son

LARGO — The release of a medical examiner's report has led authorities to arrest a 23-year-old Largo man and accuse him of killing his infant son in May.

Tracy A. Pethtel of 401 Rosery Road NE, No. 819, was caring for his 11-week-old son at his apartment on May 29 when the baby began making "gasping noises" and started to become unresponsive, said Largo police spokesman Lt. Mike Loux.

Pethtel and his roommate, who was not identified by police, took the baby to Bardmoor Emergency Center on Bryan Dairy Road.

The baby was later transferred to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he died May 30, Loux said.

This week, police received a medical examiner's report that found the infant died from blunt head trauma, authorities said. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

A detective who went to the Bardmoor emergency room on May 29 said in an arrest affidavit that he saw "a linear purple mark" on the baby's right temple, as well as a scratch under his chin and "small, circular pin-shaped red marks on the left side of the neck."

Pethtel was arrested Tuesday evening and charged with second-degree murder. On Wednesday, he was being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail.

Loux said the baby's mother, who is Pethtel's girlfriend, was at work during the time frame that investigators believe the infant was injured. Pethtel's roommate was in his room and is not believed to be involved, Loux said.

"During the five hours when it's thought this child was mortally wounded, the child was alone with the father," Loux said.

When interviewed, Pethtel denied harming the baby, Loux said.

Pinellas court records show Pethtel was arrested on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery in January 2006. The charge was amended to child abuse and Pethtel pleaded guilty. Adjudication was withheld, which means a formal conviction was withheld, and he received three and a half years of probation.

Rita Farlow can be reached at (727) 445-4157 or farlow@sptimes.com.

Largo man accused of killing his infant son 08/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8:41pm]
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