A man charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend's 8-month-old child in Tehachapi was arrested in Washington two months ago in connection with injuring another baby.
Tobin Phillips, 20, appeared in court Thursday wearing a bandage around his neck and bandages on his arms. He wore purple jail clothing, an indication he is on suicide watch.
His arraignment was postponed to Jan. 12.
Judge Judith K. Dulcich originally set bail at $1 million, but increased it to $2 million following a request by prosecutor Andrea Kohler, who noted Phillips is from outside the state and wasn't supposed to leave Whitman County in Washington following an arrest involving a similar, although less serious, offense in November.
According to court documents, Phillips suffocated a boy, identified by the coroner Friday as Baron Brian Smith, the evening of Jan. 2. The child was left in his care at an apartment in the 600 block of Cherry Lane in Tehachapi while the child's mother went to work. The child died of multiple injuries and the death is a homicide, according to a coroner's office news release.
Phillips fled before deputies arrived, but was found at a Fastrip on Tucker Road two hours later.
During an interview with Kern County sheriff's investigators, Phillips said Baron had been screaming and crying for several days and he "couldn't take it anymore."
Phillips told investigators he covered the boy's head with a pillow to get him to stop crying. When the child continued to cry, Phillips sat on the pillow until the boy lost consciousness, court documents said.
He then shook Baron, striking the child's head repeatedly on the metal bar of a futon, the documents said. Phillips poured a cup of water on the child's face to revive him, then placed him in a bath and splashed hot water on him in what he told investigators was an effort to "shock" the boy awake.
Investigators who examined Baron's body found several injuries to his neck and head.
Court documents from Whitman County show Phillips was arrested in Albion, Wash., on Nov. 4, where he is accused of assaulting his 21-day-old daughter.
The baby suffered what was first believed to be a skull fracture from being struck in the head, but doctors later determined the skull had not been fractured. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Still, the baby was "seriously injured," Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said Thursday. Phillips, who Tracy said has no prior criminal history, was released on his own recognizance following his arrest in Washington.
There was no indication Phillips wouldn't show up to his next hearing, and he faced at most only a few months in custody for the assault on the baby, Tracy said. Additionally, the court didn't find there was a likelihood he would commit a violent crime if released.
"Of course, he went on to commit a violent crime, or at least there is evidence to believe he did," Tracy said.
He said he was "shocked" upon hearing of the allegations against Phillips in Kern County and its similarities to the case in Washington.
"Similar circumstances but so much worse," Tracy said.
He contacted Kern County prosecutors and agreed to defer his case against Phillips until the murder case is finished.
Phillips worked in construction in Washington, court documents said. The 21-day-old is his only child, and authorities placed her in protective custody.
Court documents indicate Phillips had been dating the baby's mother for two years.
Tracy did not know of any connections Phillips had in Kern County, but sheriff's officials said he was dating the mother of the 8-month-old boy.