Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dad on trial for abusing 2-month-old son (Hampton, Virginia)

Fathers who have just separated from the mothers of their children are especially dangerous to the kids.

Dad is identified as MICHAEL BRINKLEY, JR.,0,887590.story

Hampton jury begins deliberating in child abuse trial

A jury trial will continue Wednesday for a Newport News man charged with abusing his son. (

By Ashley K. Speed 8:25 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2014

HAMPTON — A Hampton jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a Newport News man charged with abusing his infant son.

Michael Brinkley Jr. is charged with abusing his two-month-old son in 2011, according to police. Police were called to the hospital Nov. 28, 2011, to investigate the boy's injuries, which included a skull fracture, broken ribs, hemorrhaging on the brain and retinal bleeding. Brinkley was arrested and charged with felony child abuse a few days later.

The 12-person jury deliberated for around 30 minutes before being excused because a tornado watch was issued for the region.

Brinkley, 27, told authorities he was giving his son a bath when the boy slipped from his arms and hit his head. He also told police that as he was rubbing lotion on his son after the bath, he noticed he was unresponsive and slapped his face and shook him until he became conscious. Brinkley told police he shook his son for between 30 seconds and a minute, according to court testimony. He didn't take his son to the hospital once the child became conscious, according to court testimony. The boy's mother took him to the hospital a few days later when he began having seizures.

During her closing argument, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Charisse Mullen told jurors that Brinkley initially told three different people — a doctor, a police officer and a social worker — that he didn't know anything about his son's injuries. "This was not an accidental injury," Mullen said. "The evidence was that he sustained abusive head trauma. That doesn't occur from a drop from a relatively short distance."

Brinkley and his ex-wife were separated at the time of the incident. Brinkley was watching his son while his wife went to class. The boy is now 2 years old. Assistant Public Defender Stuart Saunders, one of Brinkley's attorneys, said his client was a loving father who was caring for his son. Saunders said his client's actions were not criminal.

"Brinkley is guilty of bad judgment," Saunders said in his closing argument. "Bad judgment is not a crime. It's not a willful act. It was a mistake. Thank goodness we don't punish everyone who makes a bad judgment."

Two doctors testified about the infant's injuries. A doctor for the prosecution, who also treated the boy, testified that his injuries were not accidental, and were caused by blunt force trauma, Mullen said in her closing.

Dr. Joseph Scheller, a child neurologist who reviewed the infant's medical records, testified for the defense.

Scheller said he wasn't sure the infant actually had a skull fracture because it disappeared within two weeks of the infant's first examination after the incident. Scheller said the fracture could have been mistaken for growth lines that appear in infants' skulls and eventually fade away as they develop. He said there was no blood under the space where the suspected skull fracture appeared.

The jury will continue deliberating Thursday beginning at 8:45 a.m.