Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dad accused of shaking baby, causing brain damage, during weekend visitation (Lafourche Crossing, Louisiana)

Dad PAUL ANTOINE DION is accused of shaking his infant son, causing severe brain damage, during his weekend visitation. Notice that this mother took out an order of protection, which Daddy promptly violated. The mother is deathly afraid that if the bond is lifted, Daddy will further harm her or the baby. If you read through Dastardly Dads, you'll find plenty of cases that document this mother's fear.

I really have to wonder whether Dad had a past history of violence--seems likely to me. And note that he got child visitation anyway. That's what's wrong with the system right now, folks.

Father accused of shaking baby, causing brain damage

by John DeSantis / Houma Courier
Posted on November 9, 2010 at 2:26 PM

THIBODAUX — When Melissa Thibodeaux hears of neighbors' babies hitting milestones like first steps and first words, she is happy for them, but then looks at her own child and sheds bitter tears.

“All that was taken away from me not by an act of God but by the act of one man, his father,” the 43-year-old Lafourche Crossing woman said. “That was all taken away. Physically, my baby is here, but he murdered him.”

Paul Antoine Dion, 44, has not been convicted of a crime at this point. He awaits trial at the Terrebonne Parish jail on a charge of cruelty to a juvenile brought last year. Prosecutors allege that Dion caused his son Spencer, now 14 months old, to suffer severe brain damage. Although initially freed on bond, Dion was rearrested for allegedly violating a protective order connected to the case and is being held without bond.

He is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Judge George Larke's Houma courtroom, where his attorney will seek to have his bond reinstated.

The accused's mother, Doris Dion, of Bourg, says her son would never have done anything to harm the baby, and that he should be able to make bond so he can assist in his defense and work at his job as a truck driver.

Dion was charged Dec. 15 with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, which carries a maximum of 40 years in prison. Court papers and accounts from officials say Dion had the boy for a custody visit and returned him to Thibodeaux Dec. 12, after telling her the baby was refusing to take his bottle during the weekend.

When she got Spencer home, she said, he went into seizures and she rushed him to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. She said doctors told her the problem could be child abuse or meningitis, and then ruled out meningitis in the tests.

She has since been told that he exhibited the symptoms of a shaken baby. A warrant was issued for Dion and he was arrested.

“I didn't know anything about shaken baby until this happened to my baby,” Thibodeaux said.

Shaken-baby syndrome is a catch-all medical description for injuries that occur when babies are violently shaken. Traumatic brain injury is common, often resulting in death.

As Thibodeaux tended to her son's medical needs and traveled from doctor to doctor, prosecutors prepared their case against Dion.

Dion allegedly violated a protective order requiring him to stay away from Thibodeaux and the baby. He was freed after saying he was not in Lafourche Parish. A new order was issued stating that he could not enter Lafourche Parish.

Then he was spotted driving a sugar cane truck last month at Raceland Raw Sugars and was charged with violating the new order. Thibodeaux called for help getting the order enforced. Prosecutors Mark Rhodes and Bud Barnes traveled to Lafourche Parish to see that the order was complied with: Rhodes acknowledges he personally confronted Dion, who disappeared for a week. He was rearrested and booked into the Terrebonne jail Nov. 1. His attorney now wants bond reinstated and plans to make that argument Wednesday before Larke.

A bond is issued to ensure the appearance of a defendant in court, not as a punishment, since the defendant has not been convicted. But judges may deny bond if they find an individual to be a threat to someone's safety.

Barron Whipple, Dion's lawyer, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Thibodeaux said she is afraid that if he is bonded out, Dion will harm her or the baby.

“He could come and shoot up my house, he has to know he is going to serve time for this,” said Thibodeaux, alleging Dion committed earlier acts of violence that was she was afraid to report to police.

Dion's legal problems could become more complicated. Prosecutors are looking into the possibility of re-presenting the case to a grand jury, seeking an indictment for attempted first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 10 to 50 years in prison without parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

Thibodeaux said she hopes prosecutors succeed in getting an attempted-murder indictment, though no punishment or criminal charge can undo the damage.

“My baby should be walking, he should have sat up and walked,” Thibodeaux said. “I have a stroller that is like a wheelchair and it should never have been like that. I love my baby, he is everything to me. I have to spend 24 and seven with him, therapists come once a week. ... Whether that will change the doctors don't know. We celebrate his birthdays once a month. But we celebrate every day that he wakes up.”