A Mason father will face a jury in the fall for allegedly causing serious physical harm to his baby girl.
Jason Bittner, 33, was indicted in March by a Warren County grand jury for felonious assault and child endangering. He appeared today in common pleas court, where Judge Timothy Tepe said a trial date would be scheduled for the end of October or the beginning of November.
Defense attorney Steven Adams said he needed to consult with experts about their availability before setting a definitive trial date. Bittner, a chiropractor, was arrested at his office in West Chester Twp. He is free on $25,000 bond and is wearing an ankle monitor.
Bittner said nothing during the short pre-trial hearing.
Bittner’s wife took their 3-month-old daughter to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where doctors discovered the baby had traumatic brain injuries and 29 rib fractures in various stages of healing, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.
Doctors were told the injuries were the result of an accident, but that story was not consistent with the infant’s injuries, Fornshell said.
“The defendant knew the child had been injured on Feb. 26, but sought no medical treatment despite knowing about the head injury,” Fornshell said.
Bittner was resentful the infant, his second child, was a girl and not a boy, according to the prosecutor. But he also was intolerant of a fussy infant, Fornshell told this news outlet.
“There was underlying resentment over (the sex of the child), but his temper over the fussing may have had more to do with it,” Fornshell said.
After today’s hearing, Adams said Bittner’s infant daughter is doing well.
“Doctors can make mistakes, people can make mistakes in their opinion,” Adams said, noting he has had a chance to question the doctor in this case. “At the very beginning of this case they made an allegation that Jason’s daughter was brain dead. That is a serious allegation.”
But during his questioning of the doctor, Adams said “the state’s doctor didn’t know where that allegation came from and said it was simply not the case and also said Amy (the infant) is doing quite well … we know now that Amy is doing quite well and we know now that the allegation of being brain dead is simply false. … Amy is doing very well now and we are marching on.”
According to court documents, Bittner made statements to Mason police about the injuries to his second daughter.
Bittner told Mason police detectives the infant fell off a couch while in a “baby bouncer type seat” without a harness, according to a search warrant to seize Bittner’s cell phone. The incident occurred while he was alone in the house with his children after his wife was at work.
“Jason Bittner left the infant on the couch unattended with a 2-year-old sibling and went to the lower level basement of the house,” police said Bittner told them. He was away from the children for 20 to 30 minutes before returning upstairs.
“Jason Bittner advised that when he arrived upstairs he observed his infant daughter face down on the wood laminate floor with the baby bouncer seat resting over her back. Jason Bittner describes his daughter as having convulsions while lying on the floor,” detectives stated in the court documents.
“It was not until 48 hours later, after the child was running a fever, that the mother took the baby to the hospital,” the document states.
The defense has filed a motion to have Bittner’s statements tossed at trial.
Adams said in the motion that Bittner also did not waive his right to have an attorney present during interrogation by police.
The motion also says evidence taken from Bittner’s home should be suppressed on the basis that the search was done without a warrant and without probable cause to believe Bittner had committed a crime, according to Adams. The defense has requested a hearing to argue the motion.
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