Nacogdoches man gets boot camp for burning baby

Kendrick Tarver mug shot courtesy of Nacogdoches County Jail.
Kendrick Tarver mug shot courtesy of Nacogdoches County Jail.

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A district judge has sentenced a Nacogdoches man to the state prison system's boot camp on a charge that he burned his baby daughter in a bath.

Judge Campbell Cox sentenced Kendrick Tarver to a ten-year prison sentence, probated to shock probation in 150 days. He must also pay a $1,500 fine.

Tarver pleaded guilty to injury to a child on Monday.

He was arrested in September and a grand jury indicted him following an investigation into the 12-day-old baby's injuries in July.

Emergency room doctors found second and third degree burns to the baby's chin, stomach, genitals and buttocks. She was flown by helicopter to Shriner's Burn Unit.

According to a previous report, Tarver says he was giving the child a bath with a wash cloth. He eventually admitted spraying the baby directly out of the sprayer with scalding hot tap water. The mother blamed diaper rash.

The state's boot camp program is modeled after boot camp in the military and used to teach discipline to convicted felons.

"The case was indicted not that he intentionally or knowingly injured the child, but that he recklessly injured the child," said Tarver's attorney, Lee Westmoreland. "In other words, he should have been aware of the danger of injury, but either failed to appreciate it or couldn't appreciate it."

"We want to make sure we differentiate between people who honestly don't know how to parent versus people who are truly evil and set out intentionally to harm children," said District Attorney Nicole LoStracco.

Mistake or not, it is an infant who suffers the damage of third-degree burns over much of her body. A lesson was learned in a very horrible way.

"Messed up the way some happen," said Craig Spencer, a relative of Tarver's. "Move fast, didn't think."

CPS hasn't totally ruled out Tarver's ability to someday parent.

"Originally, they filed and they wanted his parental rights absolutely terminated," Westmoreland said. "They have amended that and said as long as he complies with the condition to the program that they want him to do that they will not terminate his parental rights."

If Tarver successfully completes the 150-day program he can return to Nacogdoches for a chance to get his life back on track. It's a goal his mother wants him to reach.

"My son is a good kid," Hattie Franklin said. "He's just doing what he has to do to get on with his life."

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