THE COLUMBIAN, Vancouver, Washington, Saturday, September 11, 2004.

No bail drop in circumcision case

Saturday, September 11, 2004
By KEN OLSEN, Columbian staff writer

A Ridgefield man accused in the botched circumcision of his 8-year-old son will continue to be held on $50,000 bail because his family, including the alleged victim, can't be located, Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard ruled Friday.

An attorney for 33-year-old Edwin B. Baxter asked that the bail be reduced after prosecutors filed a second-degree child assault charge in connection with the Sept. 3 incident.

Baxter was arrested on suspicion of first-degree child assault, resulting in the $50,000 bail. Prosecutors then decided there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove he intended to harm his son. The lesser charge reduces the maximum possible prison term from 10 years to approximately three years.

That justifies a lower bail, defense attorney Tony Lowe said.

Baxter wants to return to work as a truck driver to support his family.

But senior deputy prosecutor Kim Farr told the judge that Baxter is likely to flee if freed before trial. That concern is heightened by the disappearance of Baxter's pregnant wife and nine children after the victim was released after treatment at Southwest Washington Medical Center.

"We can't find where they are and nobody knows where they are," Farr told the judge. "This appears to be a pattern of the Baxters," including the family's longstanding refusal to cooperate when state workers attempted to check on the children.

The children are not enrolled in school. Investigators from the state Department of Children and Family Services found the fence surrounding the family's rental home padlocked Tuesday.

There also are unanswered questions about Baxter's criminal record. He may have as many as three misdemeanor convictions for fourth-degree assault in connection with domestic violence incidents dating back to the 1980s, Farr said. Bail reduction "is an opportunity for him to pick up and flee."

Baxter, who is tall, bearded, and wears his dark hair in a crew cut, offered no information on the whereabouts of his family. However, a woman who said she was Baxter's grandmother assured the judge he wouldn't flee.

"He wants to get out and support his children," she told the judge Friday. "I'm positive he won't flee. I'd stake my life on it."

Woolard was unmoved. "It's not your life I'm worried about," the judge said. "It's the lives of the children I'm worried about."

The woman, who was accompanied by an entourage of six other people, refused to comment after the court hearing.

Baxter allegedly told Clark County Sheriff's deputies he tried to circumcise his son with a knife in the bathroom of the family's home after reading about the procedure in the Bible. He then called 911 to report his son was bleeding.

Baxter returns to court Sept. 17 for arraignment.

Ken Olsen is a projects reporter for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-759-8010 or

(File created 12 September 2004)