Jury convicts father on one count of child abuse
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – After a trial that lasted more than two weeks, and after approximately four hours of deliberation, a jury has convicted a Rifle man of committing child abuse against his infant son in 2010.
The same jury that convicted Jose Chavez found his wife, Adriana Chavez, innocent of the sole count against her.
In a case based entirely on circumstantial evidence, before Ninth District Judge Daniel Petre, the prosecution charged the couple with inflicting severe brain damage and other injuries on their infant son less than two months after he was born on Feb. 1, 2010.
Jose Chavez, 19, faced four felony-level child abuse charges, alleging that in March 2010, he shook his infant son, Alberto, or in some other way caused such injuries as broken ribs, a broken leg and head trauma so severe that the child developed bleeding of the eyes and on the brain.
There were no witnesses to any incidents of abuse, according to statements made during the trial by the prosecution and the defense. Adriana Chavez, 20, faced one charge of criminal negligence and child abuse, also a felony, for doing nothing to stop the alleged abuse.
Some witnesses testified that Jose played roughly with the child and that in one instance Adriana warned Jose that she would not let him hold the baby if he persisted in the rough play.
Defense attorneys Joe Pickard and Peter Rachesky argued that the prosecution did not prove the baby was abused, and offered expert medical testimony to show that Alberto suffered from several serious childhood ailments that could have contributed to his collapse on March 26, 2010, after an afternoon spent with his dad.
Citing medical records of Alberto’s many visits to doctors in his first two months of life, the child’s fussy nature and vitamin deficiencies that might indicate a case of rickets, Pickard told the jury, “There was something wrong with Alberto.”
The defense also maintained that, according to Jose, Alberto fell from a sofa on the afternoon of March 26, tumbling a distance of less than two feet onto a carpeted floor, which could have caused some of his injuries.
By the time Jose had rushed the infant to the Grand Valley Hospital in Rifle, Alberto’s heart had stopped and he was not breathing, testimony showed.
Doctors resuscitated the infant, but a July 22, 2010, statement by Social Services caseworker Rochele Mettauer predicted, “Alberto will spend the rest of his life significantly disabled due to the serious brain injury he sustained.”
Prosecutors Anne Norrdin dismissed the defense theory that Alberto suffered from all these ailments, or that they led to the injuries described.
“The defendants want you to suspend reality at the expense of recognizing what really happened to this child,” she said.
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