GALLIPOLIS — A Rio Grande man previously indicted on attempted murder charges for shaking a baby pleaded guilty Friday to felonious assault and earned a maximum eight-year prison sentence.
Timothy Davis, 32, of Rio Grande, pleaded guilty in Gallia County Court of Common Pleas after an incident involving his then-two-month-old daughter. Gallia County 911 operators received calls about an unresponsive child the evening of Dec. 4. Gallia County EMS responded with Rio Grande police and located an infant who was having difficulty breathing. Squad workers discovered bruising on the child’s upper torso and face, along with an abrasion along the left ear.
Emergency responders transported the young girl to the Holzer Medical Center Emergency Room on Jackson Pike before she was airlifted to Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va. Reports say the infant suffered a skull fracture, swelling of the neck, retinal hemorrhaging and a brain hemorrhage. Experts often report these as signs of “shaken baby syndrome.”
Caretakers held the child for 17 days before releasing her into Gallia County Children’s Services’ custody. Adkins’ office reported the child as stable and in the care of a foster family, although she has been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia, blindness and suffers from seizures.
According to information provided by justice system officials, an interview of Davis with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation showed that while Davis was at home with four children, he felt overwhelmed. Records say Davis shook the then-two-month-old because of her crying. Davis left the room and returned a few minutes later to hear the child gargling and having breathing difficulties. He called the child’s mother before 911 for help.
Winston Woodyard represented Davis during proceedings and Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins, along with assistant prosecuting attorneys Eric Mulford and Britt Wiseman, represented the state. Adkins said they presented a case they felt would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Davis “knowingly caused serious physical harm” to his child. Adkins said witnesses who would have been called to testify, had the matter have gone to trial, would have included police, EMS responders, children’s services workers and BCI agents. The prosecutors said they also would have presented testimony and medical records from the hospital in regards to the child’s diagnosed injuries.
Davis heard the evidence to be shown and agreed the offense could have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He then entered a guilty plea to felonious assault. The court then went into a sentencing hearing.
“We were insistent that the defendant was going to serve the maximum sentence allowed under current Ohio law, which in this case is eight years,” Adkins said. “I wish — and my entire staff wishes — that a longer prison sentence was permitted under the law, but unfortunately it was not in this case. Felonious assault in Ohio is a second-degree felony, which carries a possible term of incarceration of anywhere from two to eight years.”
Mulford said that prior to Friday morning’s sentencing, the Gallia County Juvenile Court terminated Davis’ parental rights to his infant and another biological child.
“The injuries to the infant in this care are horrific,” Wiseman said. “As a new father, this case has hit home with me, in particular. This little three-month-old baby girl deserved to be protected by her parents. She deserved to be loved and cared for as all children should. Instead of being loved, she was abused. She was abused by an adult man to the point that we didn’t know whether she was going to survive the attack. That little girl proved to us all that she is a fighter and that she was going to pull through. We pray for her recovery and for her safety.”
Kristi Smith, a children’s services caseworker, read a statement to the court saying that “at three months old, an infant enjoys interacting by smiling, looking at themselves in the mirror and communicating with ‘oohs and aahhs.’ Infants at this age are experiencing the new world around them: Colors are brighter, recognizing toys, focusing on people and siblings around them. They are feeling new textures with their feet and hands. They are gaining in strength by rolling over, kicking stronger and holding their head up longer during tummy time. Their brain is full of activity.
“However, at three months old (the child in question) does not see colors, she cannot see herself in a mirror, she cannot see her siblings, she cannot roll, she cannot feel textures and her brain is not full of activity. Her days are full of darkness and shadows. She has to identify her world through listening and the loving touch of her caregivers. At three months old (the child’s) life has been altered dramatically due to the actions of her parent. At three months old, (the child’s) last vision was of her parent violently abusing her.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.