A jury this morning will begin deliberating the fate of a 34-year-old woman accused of severely abusing her baby nephew following a more than three-week trial loaded with conflicting medical testimony.
Julie Baumer is on trial for first-degree child abuse, accused of causing brain injury— skull fracture and brain and retinal bleeding — to infant Philippe Baumer, while under her care in October 2003.
The trial featured a battle of experts, as the prosecution presented three physicians, and the defense countered with six doctors.
Macomb prosecutors contend Baumer struck and violently shook the child, now named Benjamin, before taking him to Mount Clemens General Hospital, from where he was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. Benjamin, 7, whose mother is in prison for selling drugs, is severely disabled, requiring around-the-clock care by his adopted parents.
Assistant Macomb prosecutor Richard Goodman told jurors in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens during closing arguments Wednesday that Baumer hit Benjamin and realized “something happened.”
“The defendant became upset,” he said. “She shook him hoping to revive him, hoping she can get him to wake up. … Whatever the reason, anger, the defendant caused further injury.”
Or, he suggested, Baumer “could’ve been hitting him at the same time.”
This is Baumer’s second trial on the allegations. The former Harrison Township resident was convicted of first-degree child abuse following a trial in 2005 and served four years of a 10-year prison sentence. But her conviction was reversed after three prominent doctors agreed that Benjamin’s injuries were caused naturally. They say he suffered venous sinus thrombosis, aka “infant stroke,” which can mimic shaken baby syndrome.
“There is no evidence whatsoever this person (Baumer) is responsible” for Benjamin’s injuries, defense attorney Carl Marlinga argued during his two hours of closing argument. “It’s a totally natural event that doesn’t come from abuse.”
Free on bond, her case has been taken on by the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan.
Marlinga’s touted the expertise of his half-dozen doctor experts. “It wasn’t just their opinion; they backed it up,” said Marlinga, a former Macomb County prosecutor.
Goodman countered in his rebuttal that VST did not occur
“Nobody has reported this as happening this way; it’s never happened in 50 years,” he told jurors. “If you base your verdict on the evidence and not some theoretical possibility, you’ll find the defendant guilty.”
But Marling said VST is “becoming more diagnosed” and known in the medical industry.
Marlinga also touted Baumer’s character, as several witnesses testified that she was gentle in caring for other nieces and nephews, is “emotionally stable” and has no history of “uncontrollable behavior.” She “was excited” that she had agreed to adopt the boy since her sister could not care for him, he said.
But Goodman retorted: “Sure, she was a great aunt to (another nephew) and her other nieces and nephews, but that makes no prediction about her ability to care for an infant 24/7.”