Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dad (and police officer) goes to trial for abuse of 3-month-old daughter; dad blames the dog (Gainesville, Florida)

Dad HERBERT WADE PRIESTER is now on trial for the life-threatening injuries sustained by his then 3-month-old daughter. I've heard of the classic "the dog ate my homework" excuse. But I've never heard the dog blamed for child abuse before. Doesn't look like the evidence suggests any canine involvement in this crime at all. For example, there were no bite marks or scratches.

I think Bandit is being framed, set up for Daddy's dastardly doings.


Trial begins for GPD officer accused of injuring infant

By Karen Voyles
Staff writer

Published: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 1:07 p.m.

A veteran Gainesville police officer is on trial this week in connection with life-threatening injuries to his infant daughter.

Herbert Wade Priester, 39, is on trial for aggravated child abuse and child neglect.

The charges are the result of injuries his daughter suffered three years ago when she was about 2 months old. Investigators have said the tiny girl had internal bleeding from her spleen and liver and broken ribs as well as various marks on her skin. The girl recovered and is now a healthy 3-year-old, according to both sides in the case.

What separates the prosecution and defense is the question of how the 10-pound girl received her injuries.

During opening arguments, Assistant State Attorney Jeannie Singer described the girl's injuries as having been inflicted by her father - Priester.

Priester's defense attorney, Don Holmes, told jurors they will hear expert testimony describing how the injuries were inflicted by Bandit, the Dutch shepherd dog who was at the home with Priester and the infant on the day she was injured.

"This is a case of a person who did a very bad thing," Singer told the jury. "He did a very bad thing out of frustration," and then tried to blame it on Bandit the dog. Singer also told jurors that Priester "knew he would have to have an explanation" but that his "explanation of the injuries did not add up."

For example, Singer said, the medical team that worked on the infant did not find any bite marks or scratches on her neck or face, which would be signs of a canine attack on a human. Singer also said that Priester's wife - the baby's mother - left the infant in a diaper and a one piece sleeper with attached feet - an ensemble a dog was unlikely to be able to remove from a baby. She also told jurors they would be able to examine the sleeper for themselves.

Holmes urged jurors to listen closely to the evidence so that they could hear for themselves what would be apparent.

"The pieces won't fit," Holmes said. "There will be inconsistencies. There will be conflicts."

For example, Holmes said, jurors could expect to hear from forensic experts who were presented with the same information but reached different conclusions on whether Priester or the dog was responsible for inflicting the injuries.

"Don't just listen to what the experts say - listen to the basis of their statements," Holmes said. "Common sense and reason are going to tell you that the dog hurt this child."

Priester, who was working as a patrol officer when he was charged in the case, was re-assigned to an office job pending the outcome of the trial.