Man arrested for allegedly striking 10-year-old with hammer

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man was arrested Monday for allegedly striking a 10-year-old boy in the chin with a hammer.

Robert Dowell, 29, was arrested for child abuse resulting in injury, a felony, on Monday, Feb. 10 after he allegedly admitted to striking the child in December 2019.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Senior Trooper P.J. Robinette with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on January 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m., Robinette received a walk-in complaint in reference to child abuse from the child’s mother.

The mother of the victim reportedly told Robinette that her ex-boyfriend, Dowell, had allegedly hit her 10-year-old son in the chin with a claw hammer, which caused an injury.

According to the report, the woman said she and Dowell had been a couple and were living together for approximately six months prior to the incident. She also told Robinette the incident allegedly occurred in December 2019 several days before to Christmas.

The woman said her son approached her and told her he’d been hit by “Dad,” a name he commonly used when referring to Dowell. The child’s mother also said she’d taken a picture of her son’s injury at the time; however, she didn’t report it then because Dowell had claimed “it was an accident that occurred while he was repairing something inside the home,” the file says.

However, the woman told Robinette that several weeks later, her son began telling her he was scared to be inside the home, and when she asked him why, her son said it was due to being hit with the hammer by Dowell, the complaint says.

On Monday Feb. 10, a forensic interview of the woman’s son was conducted at Mountain CAP Child Advocacy Center in Buckhannon. During the interview, the child reportedly provided information which corroborated details relayed to police by the mother.

The same morning, Robinette interviewed Dowell, and he allegedly confessed to striking the woman’s son in the chin with the hammer. According to the report, Dowell said he hit the boy with a hammer because he was “nervous over not having enough money for smokeless tobacco.”

Dowell said he and the child’s mother had been living together for several months prior to the incident. Dowell said during that time, he was commonly left in charge of her son and his younger brother.

Bail was set at $50,000 cash or surety.

The possible penalty for a conviction of child abuse resulting in injury is confinement in the state penitentiary for one to five years, a fine between $100 and $1,000, or both — or, in the discretion of the court, confinement in jail for up to one year.

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