Six-week old infant spared from domestic abuse

A 37 year-old St Augustine woman, with a lengthy arrest history in St Johns County going back to 2006, was arrested again, Tuesday night; now charged with child abuse and aggravated assault with a baseball bat — against a man, who police say, was attempting to protect his six week-old child.

Still in custody today, Dana Denise Phelps, is being held in lieu of $7000 bond.

St Augustine Police were dispatched to 93B Chapin Street Tuesday night at about 8:00 p.m. — where Phelps is the 50 year-old victim’s live-in girlfriend, according to the incident report.

The victim, six week-old baby girl in his arms, explained to police that Phelps was throwing his things around their apartment, and off the balcony, while his child was sitting in a stroller; also on the balcony.

When the victim picked the child up and took her inside where she would be out of danger, he reported that Phelps followed him inside and demanded that he return the baby to her.

He refused; making Phelps “very angry”. “She picked up an aluminum baseball bat and started swinging it at (the victim), who was still holding (the baby)”. The victim and child escaped through the back door and ran south down Spring Street, according to the report.

Phelps continued after them with the bat, police say, but she stopped chasing them at the intersection of Spring Street and Fred Waters Way. The victim told officers that he believed she had returned to their apartment.

Officer Marston went to the Chapin Street apartment and noticed “a pile of clothes, suitcases, and broken dresser shelves underneath the balcony,” consistent with the victims earlier statement. He found Phelps and another man, identified as the couple’s roommate, sitting on the balcony.

Marston summoned Phelps to come downstairs and outside the residence to speak with him and she complied. “I could tell that she was intoxicated,” Marston reported. “I asked Phelps what was going on and she began to rant in profanities.”

Police spoke to Phelps at the scene and she explained her actions by saying that she had asked the victim if she could go out. He said “no”, and it upset her, according to the report. Phelps alleged that she had been asleep and that the victim hit her first; no signs of new or previous injuries to support her claims were apparent, police said.

Phelps admitted to trying to hit the victim with the baseball bat; saying that he “beat the shit” out of her, plenty of times. Officer Marston asked Phelps if the victim was holding the child in his arms at the time, and she said yes — but also said that she would never do anything to hurt the baby.

The roommate told officers that he had arrived at the apartment about 30 minutes before the incident occurred and that, to his knowledge, Phelps had been awake the entire time. The roommate also stated that he had never known the victim to hit Phelps — on this occasion or any previous one.

Police reported the incident to the state Department of Children and Families, provided domestic violence information to the victim, and transported Phelps to the St Johns County Detention Facility.

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