Chandler man accused of biting baby son

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Justin Hornketh By Jennifer Thomas Justin Hornketh By Jennifer Thomas

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- A Chandler man is in jail for allegedly biting a 9-month-old boy after he says the child bit him first.

“We were just sitting there on the couch and he bit me, so I bit him back,” said Justin Hornketh, speaking to 3TV from behind bars – his hands chained and his feet in the signature Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office pink socks.  “He bit me harder so I bit him again.  Then he just looked at me and stopped biting me.”

Justin Hornketh, 23, was watching his son while his wife was at work on Aug. 31, according to court documents.

When the wife returned home, she noticed a red mark on her son's face. She asked her husband what happened and he said the 9-month-old boy fell off the bed.

After a few hours the red mark distinctly showed hand prints on the boy's face. 

"Mother gets home, sees that her child's injured, takes immediate, appropriate action," said Sergeant Joe Favazzo with the Chandler Police Department.

The mother took the baby to the hospital where doctors found bruises and two bite marks on his body.

Child Protective Services and police were called.

According to the court paperwork, the wife confronted her husband via text.

Hornketh responded back through text, claiming "he bit the boy because the boy bit him first."

According to the police report, Hornketh later admitted during a phone call with his wife that he also  “smacked" the baby once.

In a jailhouse interview with 3TV, Hornketh said the "smack" was accidental but admitted to biting the baby on purpose.   However, he said the idea came from his wife and in-laws.

 He admitted that biting his son was wrong but stuck by his guns when asked if he belonged in jail.

“There's a fine line between child abuse and trying to teach him something.  I didn't abuse my son,” Hornketh said.

“Do you see an inherent problem with biting an infant,” 3TV’s Jason Volentine asked Hornketh, who was chained to a chair for the interview.

“I do now, you end up here,” said Hornketh, motioning to the small jailhouse interview room.  “Trust me, I've had a lot of remorse, I've cried all I can cry.”

Hornketh was arrested and charged with three counts of child abuse. Hornketh remains in jail on a $9,000 bond.