Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dad charged in death of toddler freed (Stockton, California)

Dad is identified as DONALD LEE WILSON.

Dad charged in death of toddler freed
By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
Record Staff Writer
May 24, 2012 12:00 AM

STOCKTON - The court has ordered the release of a father charged with killing his infant child after attorneys reached a plea deal Wednesday.

Donald Lee Wilson, 23, had been headed for trial in the death of his 4-month-old son, Brandon Wilson, who medical doctors determined had traumatic brain injuries.

But in a sudden agreement at a pretrial hearing Wednesday, the prosecutor and defense attorney made a deal that allowed Wilson to be released from the San Joaquin County Jail immediately.

Wilson pleaded no contest to felony child abuse and an enhancement of infliction of great bodily injury.

The conviction is attached to a nine-year prison sentence, but that penalty was replaced with probation time by San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Xapuri Villapudua who made the attorneys' agreement official.

"He would be allowed to return with his wife and stepchildren," Villapudua said. Wilson will serve five years probation and is ordered to attend a one-year child-abuser treatment program.

If Wilson violates the sentence terms, he may be ordered to serve the nine-year prison sentence.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Angela Hayes dropped charges of child abuse resulting in death, corporal injury to a child and two other great bodily injury enhancements.

On Aug. 1, 2011, Wilson called for emergency help after his son stopped breathing, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing. He told emergency responders Brandon had a choking episode.

The following day, the baby was transported to a children's intensive-care facility in Sacramento, where he remained comatose and on a ventilator.

Physicians decided the child's injuries reflected child abuse.

San Joaquin County's chief medical examiner, Bennet Omalu, concluded that Brandon was hit on the head with great force, and he said the baby's death was caused by traumatic head injuries.

Private defense attorney Peter Johnson said Wilson withdrew his original plea of not guilty to no contest because he faced a possible life sentence if convicted by a jury.

"He's going home. That's all I have to say," Johnson said.

Hayes couldn't be reached for comment after the ruling.

Wilson's family and wife - the child's mother - declined to comment on the resolution.

Villapudua on Wednesday said the court finds there is no substantial risk of harm to Wilson's wife or children.