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Father charged for allegedly battering 3-week-old infant

A three-week-old infant is fighting for her life in the hospital after South Bend police say she was hit multiple times by her father.

ABC 57 News sat down with the infant’s aunt who says she is the temporary guardian of both the infant and the baby’s brother pending trial and she’s praying her niece makes some type of recovery at the hospital.

“I didn’t expect it to be like… this is very extreme. Obviously it’s very extreme and I didn’t know and I didn’t expect this for sure. Not at all,” said Liz Shreve, the infant’s aunt.

Shreve is trying to come to terms with how her niece ended up back in the hospital after police say she was left with broken bones and bruises by her father.

“[He], if you want my opinion, should never be able to have these children again,” said Shreve.

On July 13th, South Bend police were called to a home on Van Buren Street in South Bend in reference to a baby not breathing. Another relative called police.

“How the baby was acting, that’s when she was like ‘ok there’s a red flag here. Something’s not right' and that’s when she called an ambulance,” said Shreve.

Police located the father, Cody Balandzich, at a gas station and took him in for questioning. Police say Balandzich told them he fell asleep while holding the baby and she fell to the floor by accident. But when asked about the bruises, Balandzich admitted to hitting her on her back and backside and shaking her.

He then admitted to putting the infant down hard in their bassinet and hitting her on the chest multiple times to get her to stop crying, according to police.

“The fact that she was a helpless newborn, it’s even harder to hear,” said Shreve.

The baby is in the intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital where doctors found 6 broken bones. Shreve, who tells me she’s taken on guardianship for the her niece and nephew, says she had a strange feeling about Balandzich from the beginning.

“He was just different.. just different. And I always got a weird kind of vibe from him and I always tried to express that to [my sister], that I just thought maybe something wasn’t right and that maybe she should just keep her guard up and keep an eye on that, but she never really seemed to listen to me,” said Shreve.

But her focus is on her niece who continues to fight for her life in the hospital.

“I just pray for her every day that she continues to heal and that she’ll eventually be able to come home, hopefully, and it’ll just be a long road to recovery from there I think,” said Shreve.

Balandzich has been charged with Domestic Battery resulting in Serious Bodily Injury to a Person Less Than 14 Years Old. He is being held on a $5,000 bond at the St. Joseph County jail and set to be arraigned Thursday at 1:00 p.m.

The family has set up a Go-Fund-Me account to help Liz care for the two children.

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