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More trouble for Utah County man charged with baby’s death

SHARE More trouble for Utah County man charged with baby’s death
Christopher Thunborg

Christopher Thunborg

AMERICAN FORK — A man charged with child abuse homicide and obstruction of justice faces another criminal charge stemming from an alleged assault at his work.

Christopher Thunborg, 22, was arrested March 12 after Orem police investigated the death of Thunborg's girlfriend's baby — 13-month-old Austin Pettersson — who was in Thunborg's care while the baby's mother was at work.

Doctors discovered suspicious bruising and damage to internal organs most likely caused by blunt force trauma and Thunborg was arrested when his story didn't match up with doctor's findings, police say.

But nearly a week before that arrest, American Fork police officers had been investigating an assault that happened sometime between March 2 and 6 at the Utah State Developmental Center in American Fork, where Thunborg works, said Sgt. Shauna Greening.

The facility is a residential and rehabilitation center for adults with mental and physical disabilities .

Greening said they received a report about some type of altercation between two clients, which upset another client — the alleged victim.

"It looks like (staff) calmed him down, but then Thunborg grabbed him around the neck and took him down," Greening said. "It seemed like it was de-escalating then Thunborg assaulted the client."

Thunborg allegedly tackled the 20-year-old client, then put his knee on the alleged victim's back and neck area to keep him down, Greening said.

There was no information about any injuries to either person, Greening said.

Thunborg was charged in American Fork's 4th District Justice Court March 19 with aggravated abuse of an elderly or disabled adult and that day, entered not-guilty pleas.

Numerous messages left for American Fork city prosecutor Tucker Hansen were not returned.

When Thunborg was arrested for investigation of child abuse homicide, he was put on administrative leave with the USDC, but is still employed, said Liz Sollis, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Human Services.

A public defender was appointed to represent Thunborg in the American Fork case because he is currently in the Utah County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bail and unable to pay for his own attorney.

Thunborg's defense attorney, K. Shawn Patten, said he hasn't yet received the police reports from the incident and is waiting for more information about the case.

Thunborg will have a pre-trial conference April 30 in American Fork's Justice Court.

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com