Vincent Leroy Garbe

Vincent Leroy Garbe pleaded not guilty in Gallatin County District Court on Tuesday.

A Bozeman man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges accusing him of fracturing his son’s neck in January and negligently killing the 7-month-old boy earlier this month.

Vincent Leroy Garbe, 23, is charged with negligent homicide and assault on a minor, both felonies. He appeared in Gallatin County District Court before Judge Holly Brown.

If convicted, Garbe could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.

Garbe has been held at the Gallatin County jail on $50,000 bail since Aug. 1.

In January, Breeana Pritchard, the boy’s mother and Garbe’s girlfriend, told a Bozeman detective that Garbe was holding the baby and fell on top of him, according to charging documents.

The next morning, police said in charging documents, Garbe admitted to a detective that he was drinking while taking care of the boy and didn’t mean to hurt him. He also admitted that he shouldn’t have been drinking while taking care of the infant.

A medical examination showed that the baby’s neck was fractured. A note from the doctor said Garbe’s story “would not explain this type of injury.”

On Aug. 1, Garbe reported to police that the boy was unconscious and lying face down in a crib with “something” covering his face, according to charging documents.

Police found Garbe sitting next to the child. Police said in charging documents that he appeared upset and told an officer, “I’m not supposed to be around him... .”

The baby was pronounced dead around 11:10 a.m., that day, police said. An autopsy report later showed the baby’s death was undetermined, but that he likely died on his back sometime after 9 a.m.

Garbe was taken to the Law and Justice Center. He told an officer that he normally took care of the baby after his girlfriend left for work around 6 a.m., Monday to Friday.

Garbe admitted to police that, after Pritchard left for work the day of the incident, he smoked marijuana inside the garage before returning to the child in the bedroom, according to charging documents.

Police said Garbe then fell back asleep. He woke up around 9:30 a.m., checked on the baby and went downstairs, police said. Around 10:10 a.m., he tried waking the child when he found the infant lying in an awkward position and not moving, according to charging documents.

Asked by police if he thought marijuana might have altered his mental state, Garbe said, “I don’t know. I don’t want to say that, I don’t want to think that, but I mean it’s possible.”

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

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Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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