Marc Allen Palmer

Marc Allen Palmer

A convicted child rapist has been ordered held on a $500,000 bond on charges that he smothered a five-month-old baby boy in Missoula.

Marc Allen Palmer, 25, faces felony deliberate homicide for allegedly suffocating infant Brayden Beal while the child's mother and Palmer's mother were sleeping, according to a court affidavit.

Allen is a registered sexual offender after being convicted of child rape and three counts of child molestation in Washington in 2007.

Juvenile court records from Clallam County, Washington, say then 15-year-old Palmer was charged in December 2006 with sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl on six occasions over the course of a year at a residence in the town of Port Angeles.

Palmer pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2007, and was sentenced to two years of community supervision, which was carried out in Missoula County. He also was ordered to attend counseling, mental health programs or sex offender treatment ordered by his probation officer, and was not to have contact with any children under the age of three without adult supervision.

In the homicide case, court documents say emergency responders went to a residence in the 1800 block of Sherwood Street on the morning of March 30 after receiving a report of an infant who was not breathing.

They found Palmer holding the child, along with the child’s mother and Palmer’s mother. The baby was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Medical personnel noted that there was bruising around the baby’s mouth and a tear on the inside of his mouth.

Missoula police have been investigating the death for the past few months.

Authorities learned that Palmer, who is not the father of the infant, and the child’s mother had been staying with Palmer’s mother, sleeping on a futon in her trailer while the child apparently slept in his car seat.

All parties said Beal was alive when they went to bed early on the morning of March 30. Palmer’s mother said she had awoken around 2 a.m. and heard Palmer saying “knock if off Brayden.”

She said her son was at the car seat and she could hear a rocking noise. The next time she woke up, Palmer was telling her the child wasn’t breathing.

An autopsy of the child found bruising under Beal’s noise and around his mouth, as well as a tear on the inside of his lip. Bruising also was found on the back of his head, consistent with the child being pressed against a hard surface. A medical examiner concluded Beal died of asphyxia by smothering.

The Montana State Crime Lab also conducted a DNA test on bloodied baby wipes found in the trash at the trailer. Palmer told police he woke up with a bloody nose and used the wipes to clean himself. DNA found that the blood was a match for Beal. 

Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech set the $500,000 bail during Palmer's appearance Wednesday. She also said Palmer cannot discuss the case with the victim's mother, who Palmer identified as his fiancée, cannot have weapons and must remain in Missoula County if he posts his bond.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for The Missoulian.