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A Billings man accused of assaulting his 5-week-old son pleaded no-contest to a felony charge Friday in District Court.

Andrew Lawrence Brant, 24, appeared before Judge Mary Jane Knisely and entered the conditional admission to the charge of assault on a minor. A defendant who enters a no-contest plea does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for a conviction at trial.

A plea agreement states that prosecutors will ask a judge to sentence Brant to five years in state custody, with four years suspended. Brant’s public defender will ask for a deferred sentence at a hearing scheduled for March 16.

Brant remains in the county jail on a $50,000 bond.

Brant was arrested and charged last March following an investigation that began Dec. 10, 2010, when he and his wife brought their 5-week-old son to Billings Clinic for an arm injury. Medical staff said the child had a fresh fracture on his right arm, and the child had other arm fractures that were healing. A doctor determined that the recent injury was not from an accident and reported the case to state social workers.

Brant told a social worker that he had been up with the infant that morning and was changing the baby’s clothes when his arm got stuck in a sleeve. The baby made a high-pitched scream, he said, and the couple decided to take the boy to the hospital.

Before reaching the hospital, the couple stopped at the home of Brant’s mother, a certified nursing assistant. They stayed at the home for about three hours before taking the infant to the hospital.

Prosecutors said no one in the family could explain why they waited to take the child to the hospital.

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During an interview with a social worker, the child’s mother initially said she did not know how her baby’s arm was injured, but later reported that her husband had a temper and yelled at the child. She also said they stayed at her mother-in-law’s house before going to the hospital because the woman said social workers would be called if they took the child in for treatment.

The mother-in-law also advised the couple to tell hospital staff that the infant suffered from a brittle bone disorder and, after checking on the Internet, told them to say the child’s arm was injured when it was twisted while he was being dressed.

The case was referred to the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office. During an interview, Brant told a detective that his child suffered a “bone syndrome” that caused the injury. He also said his wife smoked cigarettes while she was pregnant.

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