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Testimony begins in child endangerment trial

Testimony begins in child endangerment trial

Baby hurt after climbing playpen, defense says

An exhausted Tylan James DeBier was awakened by a thud in the early morning of March 30, 2013. His live-in girlfriend’s 13-month-old son had climbed over the edge of his playpen and fallen, Public Defender Susan Flander said in her opening statement Tuesday in Floyd County District Court.

DeBier, 25, of Nora Springs is on trial charged with two counts of child endangerment and is facing up to 20 years in prison. After a day and a half process, a jury of eight men and six women was seated Tuesday. Two of those jurors are alternates who will be dismissed before the jury is sent into deliberations.

District Judge Christopher Foy noted that the selection process was longer than usual.

In her opening, Flander said DeBier didn’t hurt the boy, he cared for him while his mother got some sleep before leaving for work early that morning and then continued to care for the boy in the hours after she left for work.

“He cared for (the baby),” Flander said “He changed his diaper that night. He fed and made sure he was not hungry.

He fell asleep and he woke to a thud.”

Flander hit the podium.

“He heard it.”

She added that the baby was starting to walk and had tried to climb out of his playpen.

The fall and the baby’s uncharacteristic behavior afterward led a worried DeBier to text message his girlfriend, call his mother for help and get the baby to a Mason City emergency room within roughly two hours of the fall, according to Flander.

A medical expert would testify that the short fall described could cause the baby’s serious head injuries, she said. “At the conclusion of this case, you’ll find that Tylan did not do anything to this child,” Flander said. Floyd County Attorney Rachel Ginbey, in delivering the opening statement for the prosecution, said they will present a medical expert witness from the University of Iowa who will testify the fall could not have caused such an injury. Ginbey spent more time than Flander describing the credentials of the prosecution witness in terms of more than a decade of working with child abuse cases. Ginbey also said the boy was a happy, healthy, normal child who had not yet mastered walking and never tried to climb out of his playpen. She described the bedroom that the baby, DeBier and his girlfriend shared, noting that the baby enjoyed his playpen, where he slept and took his bottle.

Ginbey said in a series of interviews with authorities, DeBier repeatedly said that he was awakened by a thud; yet in one, Ginbey said, DeBier changed his story to say he was awakened by the upset baby, changed his diaper and threw him back in the playpen, but didn’t know how hard.

Ginbey described the injuries as bleeding on the brain and behind the eyes as well as brain damage that caused the boy to loss of motion in right side of his body. He’s undergone therapy to regain function in his right side, she said “You will be able to hear his story through the injuries that happened to him,” Ginbey said.

Ginbey said DeBier, who did not have an outside job, often was the baby’s sole caregiver. The baby’s mother financially supported them with her job at a convenience store. They lived with DeBier’s mother.

“How and what caused (the baby’s) injuries, that’s what is what this case is about,” Ginbey said. “The who is the defendant. He was the sole caretaker (that morning).”

The prosecution began calling witnesses as well on Tuesday. The trial is expected to continue today.

Ginbey is prosecuting the case along with Assistant State Attorney General Coleman McAllister. The case was originally charged by the late Floyd County Attorney Normand Klemesrud.

By Chris Baldus [email protected]

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