With tears streaming down his cheeks, a Sylvania man accused of injuring his infant son by shaking him yesterday pleaded no contest and was found guilty of attempted child endangering.
Standing in a Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom, Demian Browning, 32, leaned on the table in front of him and spoke softly when answering Judge Linda Jennings' questions.
As defense attorney Lorin J. Zaner explained his client's decision to enter a no contest plea, Browning held his head in his hands, seemingly distraught.
County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Loisel told the judge that Browning "caused trauma" to his 4-month-old son, Ozzy Browning, in April, 2006.
Browning's parents now have custody of the child, Mr. Zaner said.
Mr. Loisel said that had the case gone to trial, prosecutors would have presented evidence from emergency medical and hospital personnel about the subdural hematomas, a kind of brain injury, and retinal hemorrhages in the child's eyes - both "indicators that trauma was inflicted," as well as other evidence.
Prosecutors recommended a prison term of no more than 12 months, and won't object to judicial release after that time is served, Mr. Loisel said.
A fourth-degree felony such as attempted child endangering typically carries a sentence of six to 18 months, he said.
Despite the plea, Mr. Zaner said he believes his client is innocent, and doctors who saw Ozzy Browning's injuries "jumped to conclusions." "He did not harm his child," Mr. Zaner said.
However, he said Browning pleaded to the lesser charge to avoid the uncertainty of a jury trial. "There's no guarantee as to what a jury of 12 is going to do," he said.
Judge Jennings, who found Browning guilty, set sentencing for May 14.