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Man pleads not guilty to leaving baby in Montana woods

July 31, 2018
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FILE - This July 8, 2018 file booking photo provided by the Missoula County Jail shows suspect Francis Crowley. Crowley pleaded not guilty Tuesday, July 31, 2018, to assault on a minor and criminal endangerment for allegedly leaving a 5-month-old baby in the woods July 8 after a car crash. Crowley remains jailed with his bail set at $200,000. (Missoula County Jail via AP, File)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — An Oregon man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two felony charges alleging he abandoned a 5-month-old baby who survived for nine hours in the woods of western Montana under a pile of debris.

Francis Carlton Crowley, 32, of Portland, entered his plea to assault on a minor and criminal endangerment. He appeared via video in District Court in Missoula and remains jailed on $200,000 bail.

Prosecutors say Crowley was under the influence of meth and bath salts when he caused a disturbance earlier this month at Lolo Hot Springs, near where he was living with the boy and the child’s mother.

He told responding officers that the baby he had been caring for was buried in the mountains, but he was unable to lead officers to the boy.

Based on some information from Crowley, officers eventually found his car in the Lolo National Forest.

Later, a deputy and a Forest Service officer found the baby — cold, hungry and covered in debris — on July 8. It was estimated the boy had been left alone for at least nine hours.

Crowley said he left the baby after a car crash because he was very heavy.

The boy is in the care of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Missoulian newspaper reported .

District Judge Karen Townsend set another court hearing for October.

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