Monday, October 12, 2015

Dad on trial for child abuse death of infant son (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Dad is identified as DAVID A. ALLEN SR.

Jury deliberating in trial of Milwaukee man accused in 2013 death of infant son
Associated Press October 10, 2015 — 5:30pm

MILWAUKEE — Jury deliberations are expected to resume Monday in the trial of a Milwaukee man accused of physical abuse that allegedly led to the 2013 death of his infant son.

Jurors began deliberating the case of David A. Allen Sr. shortly before 3 p.m. Friday but did not reach a verdict, the Journal Sentinel ( ) reported.

Allen, 34, and the boy's mother, took their son to a West Allis hospital on Oct. 6, 2012, after a day when he wasn't eating normally and seemed lethargic. After giving a series of changing explanations of what might have injured the boy, Allen admitted he squeezed the baby too hard once, and another time shook the boy when he wouldn't stop clawing at his face.

Junior was put in foster care, where his condition deteriorated until he died in April 2013. Prosecutors then charged Allen, already facing child abuse counts, with reckless homicide.

The two-week trial has highlighted uncertainty about whether "shaken baby syndrome" is always the only explanation for certain brain injuries in children.

Defense experts who questioned both the medical basis for concluding the infant died of child abuse and the validity of Allen's confession to shaking the child earned more than $40,000 for their efforts to create "a courtroom controversy," a prosecutor told a jury Friday.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Torbenson called the experts "frequent fliers" who came from four states and England to "collect a paycheck" while trying to raise doubt that Allen's actions led to the death of his son.

Torbenson said there was no doubt that child abuse led to the boy's death. He cited diagnoses from local pediatric experts who treated David Allen Jr. at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. He said those were corroborated by Allen's admissions about squeezing, shaking and dropping his son in the fall of 2012, just months after the boy, who was born two months prematurely, was released from intensive care.

In addition to the brain injuries, the boy had 12 broken ribs.

In the defense closing argument, attorney Anthony Cotton reminded jurors of his experts' credentials, and said they testified because there is a contentious debate in the medical community about attributing certain injuries to child abuse without more evidence than particular brain conditions.

"Your job isn't to reconcile that debate," Cotton told the jury.

Cotton summarized defense experts' findings that conditions resulting from the boy's premature birth could have caused silent seizures, resulting in bleeding near his brain, and that his ribs were so weak they could have been broken by normal handling.

The defense attorney reminded jurors there were no bruises, skull fractures or evidence that the child screamed or reacted as would be expected around the time his father later said he had squeezed the boy too hard.