LOS BANOS — Merced County prosecutors say a 23-year-old man accused of torturing his girlfriend's 6-month-old baby could face life in prison, if convicted.
Robert Navarrette, 23, made an appearance in Los Banos court last week for a bail hearing.
While prosecutors initially charged Navarrette with felony child abuse, Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby on Aug. 9 amended the complaint to include a torture charge, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Judge Frank Dougherty approved the prosecution's amended complaint.
In court, Navarette's attorney Deputy Public Defender Derek Meyer said his client is pleading not guilty. He also asked for time to review medical records before the preliminary hearing.
Navarrette was arrested Aug. 3, He was charged with burning the baby on the arm and face with a Bic Lighter.
Colby said such cases of abuse involving small babies aren't common.
"The burns were all second degree, including one on the face of the child, which left a clear impression from the Bic Lighter," Colby said.
Colby said the incident occurred when Navarrette spent the night with his girlfriend and her child. Colby said while the girlfriend was sleeping, Navarrette burned the infant. The child's mother took the infant to Memorial Hospital, Los Banos. The hospital contacted Los Banos police.
A pre-preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Robert M. Falasco Justice Center in Los Banos.
The felony child abuse charge also includes an enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury upon a child under 5, and mayhem.
Navarrette's bail has been set at $1.25 million.
Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at email@example.com.