Thursday, 14 July 2011

SBS: Pennsylvania: Milo Bodnar trial

July 12, 2011 : Laurie Mason Schroeder
The lawyer for a Middletown dad accused of shaking his 3-month-old son so hard that the baby suffered a brain injury says the charges are based on “one big spiraling mistake.”
Attorney Matthew Wilkov told a Bucks County jury in Doylestown on Monday that Milo Bodnar, 46, was wrongfully accused of child abuse because doctors made assumptions about the child’s medical history.
He said he’ll prove Bodnar’s innocence this week with the help of several high-profile experts, including a neurosurgeon from Georgetown University.
“Doctors make mistakes,” Wilkov said. “In this case, assumptions were made.”
Prosecutors disagree. Deputy District Attorney David Zellis told the jury that the child’s injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. He said he’ll put a child-abuse expert from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the witness stand who will testify that the little boy’s brain was bleeding, and he had blood inside his eyes.
“This was the result of being shaken. We’re talking about violent, vigorous shaking,” Zellis said.
Bodnar was arrested shortly after the May 13, 2010, incident that landed the baby in the hospital. Bodnar was watching the child while his girlfriend was shopping. She called home to check on the boy, Zellis said, and Bodnar said he was sick.
Bodnar then called 911, and the child was rushed first to St. Mary Medical Center, then to CHOP, where he spent more than two weeks in the hospital.
Police say Bodnar changed his story, admitting to doctors that he shook the boy, then telling detectives that he had no idea how the baby was hurt. Wilkov said that his client’s words may have been misconstrued by a physician with a Lithuanian accent.
The little boy has recovered from his injuries. Before the trial began, Bucks County Judge Diane Gibbons ruled that jurors will be permitted to see photos of the boy shortly after the incident, as well as photos depicting how the boy looks today.
Bodnar is free on bail. One of the conditions of his bail is that he can’t have contact with the child.
“This is an innocent man who has not seen his baby in 13 months,” Wilkov said.
Bodnar is charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault. If convicted, he could spend more than 10 years in prison.
The trial resumes today and is expected to last at least three days.

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