Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dad convicted of misdemeanor child abuse in shaking of 5-month-old son (Lake Elsinore, California)

Dad DAVID ANTHONY GUTIERREZ has been convicted of misdemeanor child abuse (but not felony child abuse) for injuries inflicted on his 5-month-old son. Dad was babysitting at the time of the "incident" and has ADMITTED squeezing the child, shaking him, and throwing him head-first into his play pen. The baby was hospitalized with a bruised head, bleeding on the brain, and a broken rib.

For this he gets "anger management" and parenting classes, and a chance to "build a relationship with his baby."

Barf. Yes, we're really tough on daddy child abusers, aren't we?

LAKE ELSINORE: Father acquitted of felony child abuse
Man freed from jail after jurors convicted him of misdemeanor charges

The Californian wire services Posted: February 23, 2010 8:42 pm

A Lake Elsinore man accused of shaking his 5-month-old son and throwing him head-first into a playpen was acquitted Tuesday of felony charges but found guilty of misdemeanor child abuse.

Jurors deliberated about a day before clearing 23-year-old David Anthony Gutierrez of two felony child abuse counts. They instead found him guilty of two counts of misdemeanor child abuse.

He was sentenced to a year in jail and five years' probation, but was immediately freed from custody with credit for time served.

Gutierrez must also take anger management and parenting classes.

"It's what we were expecting. It's what we were hoping for," said Christina Crowder, the defendant's aunt. "Now he can get back on track and build a relationship with his baby."

"He has a good support group behind him, so I think he'll be just fine," she added.

Gutierrez's son, who will be 2 next month, is healthy and lives with his mother, Crowder said.

Gutierrez, who could have faced 24 years in state prison if convicted of the felony charges, was arrested at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley on Aug. 27, 2008, after being questioned about his son's injuries.

A doctor testified that the infant had a bruise to his head, bleeding on the brain and a broken rib, leading the physician to suspect child abuse because the infant was too young to crawl and too old to have been injured that way at birth.

Dr. Frederic Bruhn said the baby had a rib fracture that was healing when he examined the infant. He said he became concerned because the baby could not have bumped his head while crawling, as older children often do, and any bones broken during birth would have been healed by then.

"Actually having force enough to produce a brain injury was worrisome," Bruhn said, although he added that the injury itself was not major.

Earlier this week, a pediatrician testified that the baby's injuries were non-life-threatening, although almost certainly caused by physical abuse.

"If your baby doesn't move, it doesn't get bruises," said Dr. Carol Berkowitz.

Gutierrez had been watching his son while the child's mother, Jeopardy Judge, was away. When she returned home to their Lake Elsinore apartment, she found a spongy spot on the side of the infant's head and rushed him to the hospital, Deputy District Attorney Julie Baldwin told jurors.

Doctors found two injuries to the child's head, including bruising on the surface of the brain, and the broken but partially healed rib, according to testimony.

During the investigation, Gutierrez admitted squeezing the baby's torso and shaking the child two weeks before he threw him into his playpen, Baldwin told the jury.