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Hastings man, 22, charged with felony assault of 11-month-old

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A Hastings man is facing felony first degree assault charges in a case involving an 11-month-old girl, KARE-TV reports.

Steven Edward Dale Wiltermuth, 22, was charged this week with brutally beating a baby girl he was babysitting, KARE says.

In response to a report of child abuse on March 16, Hastings police talked with the mother of the baby girl, who said Wiltermuth volunteered to watch her child overnight so she could spend the night out.

She reportedly told investigators that the man texted her a number of times through the evening, and said the girl had fallen off the bed, and that his own daughter struck her in the head with a remote.

When the man returned the baby at 3 a.m., the woman contacted police because the child had bruises, scratches and blisters consistent with burns, KARE reports. The mother then called police and met officers at a local hospital.

When doctors examined the 11-month-old, they discovered she had a broken arm, blood and fluid on her brain, and too much bruising over her body to even count, according to a criminal complaint.

The Pierce County Herald reports that Wiltermuth claimed his child "caused all the injuries," but the doctor said the "injuries could not be explained by the action of the other child of around 2-years of age."

According to KARE, Wiltermuth's sister, who was home the night of the assault, said she heard "blood curdling crying", and recalled smelling burning marijuana the night the baby stayed in the room with Wiltermuth.

The man reportedly denied using the drug.

Executing a search warrant, investigators found a number of pipes, a bong, and other items that may have been used to assault the child, KARE reports.

The Pioneer Press reports that police are trying to determine whether the alleged crime was racially motivated because the girl is bi-racial -- or if the man, who reportedly has child pornography charges pending against him, was a factor.

Wiltermuth could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted in the case. His next court appearance is set for April 15.

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