A Daly City man accused of dropping his 17-month-old son into a hot oven told police that the child turned on the range by himself and crawled in backward, causing second- and third-degree burns on his legs.
A video of the police interview was played Tuesday morning in San Mateo County Superior Court, where 20-year-old Gregory Colver is on trial for child endangerment and child abuse.
Colver has been accused of trying to teach his son a lesson about the dangers of a hot stove by dangling him above an open range in their Daly City kitchen on December 28, 2010, and dropping him on the hot oven rack when the boy began to squirm.
The child was brought to Seton Medical Center with multiple horizontal and vertical burns on the sides and backs of his lower legs. He was later transferred to a burn unit at San Francisco's St. Francis Memorial Hospital.
In an interview taped early the following morning at the Daly City Police Department, Colver -- who had not yet been arrested -- told two police officers and an investigator from San Mateo County Child Protective Services that he had fallen asleep on the couch when his son knocked down a child barrier to get into the kitchen.
"I'm a hard sleeper because I work all night," Colver said.
The defendant then said that his toddler son -- whom he called "not that bad of a climber" -- used an empty toy box to crawl on top of the oven, where he turned on the range, opened the oven door, dropped on to the door and crawled in backward, burning his lower legs on the rack.
The boy then went back into the living room and sat next to his dad, who woke up because he heard the boy "whining," Colver said.
"That's when I was, like, 'what the hell happened?'" Colver said in the interview.
The defendant sat just feet from the actual oven, which was brought into the courtroom, holding his hand over his mouth as prosecutor Shin-Mee Chang played the video for the jury.
Child Protective Services investigator Michelle LaVynh testified that the Colver's girlfriend -- the boy's mother who was not in the apartment at the time of the incident -- told her that Culver had been heating the oven to cook a frozen pizza at 450 degrees, and that the boy accidentally crawled in.
LaVynh went to the emergency room to photograph the injured boy for her investigation and said his screaming was "very loud, ear-piercing."
Inconsistencies in the parents' stories led police to arrest Colver on December 29. While in custody, he allegedly confessed to police that he had been trying to teach the boy a lesson by lifting him into the oven, and when the boy fought back he dropped him, according to the district attorney's office.
Defense attorney Mara Feiger has said that the confession was false and that the boy got into the oven on his own.
Colver faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.