THOMPSON FALLS – The baby’s mother, grandmother and a friend of the family told police they didn’t believe Gunner Dye would ever do anything to hurt his 3-month-old son.
Dye himself said he would never harm Shane Gabriel-Leon Dye, and that the baby appeared to choke on food on April 16, when the infant was in Dye’s care in Plains and he sought help from his girlfriend’s mother – Shane’s grandmother – next door.
But before Shane died two days later in a Missoula hospital, hospital officials told law enforcement Shane appeared to be a victim of shaken baby syndrome.
And when an autopsy was performed at the Montana State Crime Lab after the baby died, the manner of death was clear to the examiner.
It was listed as a homicide.
On Friday, Sheriff Tom Rummel said two Sanders County deputies were returning Dye, 21, to Montana from Sundance, Wyoming, to face the charge that he killed his infant son.
In court documents filed by Sanders County Attorney Bob Zimmerman, “The cause of death was determined to be craniocerebral and cervical trauma,” and that nothing Dye told police officers “explains the autopsy findings.”
Here’s what Dye, and others, said happened on April 16.
Shane’s mother, Rachel Ibarra, left for work at 3 p.m. Dye and the baby stopped in at her workplace later to say hi; Shane was in a stroller.
“She said everything appeared normal and that they left after a couple of minutes,” a motion and affidavit filed by Zimmerman says.
A friend, Andre Levert, arrived at Dye and Ibarra’s home between 5 and 6 p.m., and he, Dye and the baby went to another friend’s house. Levert departed, but got a call from Dye at about 7:45 p.m. and returned to Dye’s residence, where he and Dye played video games until about 9 or 9:30 p.m.
Levert “said that when he left Gunner was fixing a bottle for the baby and was going to go back to Rachel’s place of employment with the baby,” the documents state. “Gunner also mentioned that he was going to give the baby a bath. (Levert) said that while he was there the baby appeared fine and was smiley.”
But at approximately 9:30 p.m. a Plains police officer responded to a medical emergency at the home.
When he arrived, the officer witnessed Karla Ibarra – Shane’s grandmother who lived next door – performing maneuvers “consistent with first aid and CPR with the child.”
The officer told Ibarra to continue while waiting for an ambulance crew to arrive, and spoke with Dye.
“Gunner Dye was crying and stated that he was feeding the baby and the baby acted like he choked on food,” the document says.
The baby was rushed to Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, and then transported to Community Medical Center in Missoula.
By 3 a.m. on April 17, hospital officials were informing Sanders County Dispatch they believed the 3-month-old was a victim of shaken baby syndrome.
Two Missoula County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Community to interview Gunner Dye and Rachel Ibarra, who were both there with Shane.
“Gunner Dye told the officers that he had bathed the baby that evening, dried him and put a diaper and his clothes on him and then began feeding him a bottle with rice cereal and formula in it,” the affidavit says. “He said about halfway through the bottle the baby started coughing and gagging and then its body went limp. He said the baby was gasping for air.”
Dye told the deputies he “put on his pajamas and ran next door” to Karla Ibarra’s residence, and 9-1-1 was called from there.
The young father denied shaking the 3-month-old, and added “they had even watched a video about it when the baby was born,” according to the court filing.
“Rachel said that she does not think that Gunner would shake or hurt the baby,” the documents say. “She said that the friend who visited that afternoon would not have hurt the baby and that he is reluctant to pick up the baby as (the baby) is delicate and (he) thinks he might hurt him.”
Karla Ibarra, the grandmother, told officers “she had never witnessed anything that would lead her to believe that either parent would hurt the baby.”
Asked about other ways Shane might have suffered his injuries, Dye said the baby’s head did hit on the side of the bathtub while he was being bathed, “but it was like a little tap on the back of the head.”
Rachel Iberra said two days earlier they had been riding in a car that went over potholes, causing Shane’s head to move “side to side rapidly” but she had immediately grabbed his head to secure it.
The deputy state medical examiner who performed the autopsy wrote that “the exact timing of the injuries is uncertain; however, given the historical circumstances, the symptoms reported by the father most likely, without other available information, represent the time frame in which the injuries manifested, with the injuries occurring most likely immediately, or within a short time frame just before.”
“The medical examiner believes that the death of the child was the result of an assault,” Zimmerman wrote, and it is the medical examiner’s opinion that “there is at least clear and convincing evidence that the manner of death is homicide.”
The county attorney also filed a motion to delete the word “deliberately” in the homicide charge and add “purposely or knowingly,” and to add that in the alternative Dye may be charged with forcible felony assault on a minor.
Shane Gabriel-Leon Dye was pronounced brain dead Friday, April 18, at 10:47 a.m., approximately 37 hours after medical help for the 3-month-old was summoned through 9-1-1.