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A Colorado man is under arrest after authorities say he attempted to kill his son in the icy waters of a fenced-off drainage culvert.
Michael Ninomiya, 42, called police on Jan. 12 after his 5-year-old child entered the frigid waters along the Cherry Creek Trail near the High Line Canal south of Denver, according to the Denver District Attorney’s office. Unable to provide an exact location, Ninomiya stayed on the phone until responders eventually located the father-son duo, rescuing the boy.
The child was rushed to Children’s Hospital, but prosecutors said he was not expected to survive. According to an arrest affidavit, the boy was dependent on a ventilator and suffering from fluctuating pressure on the brain at the time of Ninomiya's arrest.
His exact injuries were redacted from the affidavit.
On Monday, the district attorney charged Ninomiya with several crimes, including attempted murder in the first degree, attempted murder of a victim under the age of 12, attempted child abuse resulting in death and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
Officers with the Denver Police Department said that Ninomiya’s wife told them her husband and son left at around 3:00 p.m. because the boy enjoyed hiking, according to the affidavit. The woman, whose name was withheld, claimed she had no concerns about letting her husband of eight years take their child on a hike but, shortly before sunset, grew concerned when she could not get ahold of Ninomiya.
At around 3:56 p.m., the child’s mother received two photos from her husband via text. After that, it was radio silence.
Michael Ninomiya called 911 at approximately 4:15 p.m.
Ninomiya’s wife was eventually notified by Children’s Hospital that the son was in the intensive care unit, according to the affidavit. The boy was reported to be in “extremely critical condition.”
Ninomiya was treated at Swedish Medical for a laceration to his forehead.
He allegedly confessed to trying to kill his son and staging it as an accident, according to CBS Denver.
“The defendant has given a full confession to intentionally trying to kill the victim in this case,” said the state’s prosecutor.
The suspect told police he’d pulled the boy into the freezing water and physically assaulted him to the point where Ninomiya wasn’t sure whether or not the boy was still breathing, according to the NY Post.
Ninomiya’s public defender claimed her defendant’s actions were the result of mental health disorder and that Ninomiya expressed remorse for his actions.
“He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and a number of other mental health disorders in his 20s,” said the public defender. “He, unfortunately, did not accept the diagnosis— as I think happens a lot — and did not accept medical treatment.”
She added that Ninomiya “feels immense guilt.”
A prosecutor argued that the laceration on Ninomiya’s head was self-inflicted and showed intentionality.
“While he indicated that this was driven by mental health issues, he also took steps to make it appear initially that this was an accident,” said the prosecutor. “These steps included trying to injure himself as well.”
Ninomiya is scheduled to be in court on Tuesday for an advisement hearing. He remains in custody on $1 million bond, according to jail records. CBS Denver reported he is also under a medication compliance order.
As of Monday, the child remained in critical condition.
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