Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dad gets 15 year for shaking 3-month-old son (East Naples, Florida)

Dad JUSTIN COLLIBEE did the role reversal thing with the mom. Since he worked nights as a bartender, he watched the baby during the day. But he obviously wasn't cut out for the role reversal thing, as he has been convicted of shaking his 3-month-old son bad enough for the baby to foam at the mouth and have a seizure. Seems the baby had developed a subdural hematoma, and it isn't clear whether the baby's vision problems or the effects of the brain injuries are permanent. And Daddy apparently shows no remorse either.

But damn, if the usual gaggle of clueless enablers didn't show up at court. Daddy's really a "good man," you know. He'd "never hurt" that baby.


East Naples man receives 15 years behind bars in shaken baby case
Posted February 11, 2010 at 7:54 p.m.

NAPLES — A 31-year-old East Naples man was sent to prison Thursday for 15 years after a judge said neither he nor jurors believed he didn’t cause his baby’s injuries and seizure.

Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt told Justin Collibee evidence showed he was the only at home April 26, 2007, when his 3-month-old boy began foaming at the mouth and had a seizure, which hospital doctors attributed to intense shaking.

“The court is satisfied that Mr. Collibee did this and he has not shown any remorse,” Hardt said before imposing the sentence, more than double the lowest permissible term he could impose.

After a December trial, a jury convicted Collibee of aggravated child abuse with great harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in a state prison. Collibee, who had been free on bond, was immediately held in jail pending sentencing.

Sentencing guidelines, which took into account his lack of a criminal record and the baby’s injuries, recommended 61⁄2 years as the lowest term, while Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca pushed for 18 years, followed by five years of probation.

“The reason I came up with 18 years is the child will then be an adult and be able to protect himself,” Maresca explained, contending the baby would have died if Collier Sheriff’s Cpl. Brian Wiedel hadn’t arrived quickly and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. “... (Collibee) needs to be punished.”

Maresca contended Collibee moved on with his life after the boy’s mother, Michelle Murphy, moved to Massachusetts, finding a new girlfriend and leaving Murphy to care for his son.

Defense attorney Joshua Faett, who represented Collibee at trial with attorney Rexford Darrow, didn’t specify any term. But he reminded the judge his expert — neurosurgeon Dr. Ronald Uscinski, who testifies nationally in baby shaking cases — testified the boy could have suffered from a pre-existing birth injury that was aggravated that day, possibly from something as minor as the baby grunting during a bodily function.

But Hardt also dismissed the expert’s testimony, saying, “The jury didn’t believe him and the court didn’t believe him either.”

Collibee apologized, but said he didn’t “knowingly” do anything that could have hurt his son.

“I’m very sorry for this whole situation,” Collibee said, adding that it has affected his life and caused many people problems. “I’m a good person. I just want you to know that.”

His mother, a church elder, new girlfriend’s father, and a friend also testified, urging leniency and calling him a good man.

“He was very excited and wanted to marry her and raise a family,” Susan Collibee said of her son learning his girlfriend, Michelle Murphy, was pregnant. “... My son would never, ever, ever hurt that beautiful boy. He loved that baby with all of his heart and his mind.”

Maresca read a letter from the boy’s mother, who has since left the state, and contends she is her son’s sole means of financial support.

“He is the sunshine of my life,” her letter said, thanking Wiedel for saving his life and noting that the toddler is doing very well.

Faett disputed that Collibee wasn’t paying child support, saying he was hospitalized for liver inflammation and lost his job, so he couldn’t pay for a while. He began paying again, but had to stop to pay for the expert to testify at his trial.

The judge reserved a decision on restitution after Maresca said it’s too soon to tell if the boy’s injuries permanently affected his vision or brain because he’s only 3 years old now.

Collibee, a bartender, took care of his son during the day and on April 26, 2007, the baby’s mother fed the baby at 4:30 a.m. and left for work at 6:15 a.m. At 9:30 a.m., she called Collibee to check on the baby, who was fine.

But he called her at 10:30 a.m. to say the baby was having a seizure while in his swing, which was malfunctioning. She told him to call 911.

Wiedel arrived, got the baby breathing and he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where a CAT scan showed bleeding due to a subdural hematoma. He was airlifted to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., where doctors determined it was an acute subdural hematoma, meaning it was fresh and caused by non-accidental head trauma. Doctors determined there was an acceleration and deceleration as the brain was shaken, causing veins to break — consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.

Both Collibee and Murphy failed polygraph exams at the Sheriff’s Office and Collibee was arrested five months later. Murphy initially stood by him until he stopped paying child support. She testified against him at trial.

After sentencing, Faett said he planned to appeal the conviction and sentence. He denied there were any orbital fractures, as the judge believed, only retinal hemorrhaging that could have been caused by a prior injury and brain swelling.