7-year-old remains in coma, suspect accused in 'random' attack charged with attempted murder

Attempted murder and other charges were filed Wednesday against a man accused in an apparent random attack on a 7-year-old boy in Desert Hot Springs, which rendered the child comatose.

Daniel Birch Poulsen, 32, was arrested Sunday, the day after the youngster was found unconscious lying in the middle of the street in the 9600 block of Vista Del Valle.

Along with attempted murder, Poulsen faces one count of willful child cruelty and sentence-enhancing allegations of committing bodily injury.

(NBC Palm Springs)

According to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, the attack caused the child to "become comatose due to brain injury or to suffer paralysis of a permanent nature."

Desert Hot Springs Deputy Police Chief Steven Shaw said this morning that the last update he received on Tuesday regarding the boy's condition was that he had not regained consciousness.

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Deputy Chief Steven Shaw said Poulsen and the victim live in the same neighborhood, but do not appear to know each other.

"Everything is indicating this is an absolutely random attack," he said.

Poulsen, who remains jailed at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail, is scheduled to make his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon.

Police officers were notified last Saturday of a report of a child found lying in the roadway. Investigators determined the boy -- whose name was not released -- was deliberately attacked but did not reveal how they identified Poulsen as the suspect.


Since 2007, Poulsen has been arrested and charged on 15 separate occasions in Riverside County on a wide array of allegations, including burglary, battery, resisting arrest, indecent exposure, committing lewd acts in public and annoying and/or molesting a child under 18 years old.

Poulsen was found mentally incompetent to stand trial at least 11 times over the years, court records show.

Cases where he did not stand trial include allegations from 2010 that he annoyed and/or molested a child under 18 years old and allegations from 2016 regarding a charge of indecent exposure.

Because all the cases were misdemeanors, Poulsen could have spent a maximum of one year in a mental facility per case, according to John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Poulsen has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, although at least four of his cases started out with the filing of felony charges that were either reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed outright.

A GoFundMe for the boy, identified as Gavin, had already raised more than $50,000, exceeding its $20,000 goal.

Anyone with information about the investigation was urged to call Detective Chris Tooth at 760-329-2904, ext. 352.