The first day of the Jason Milby “shaken baby” trial in Warren County almost seemed like the mother, not her newlywed husband, was on trial.
A jury in June was hung after eight hours of deliberations on one count of felonious assault and two counts of child endangering against Milby. Judge Robert Peeler declared a mistrial, and Prosecutor David Fornshell a month later decided to retry the 30-year-old.
Milby was babysitting then 2-year-old Bryce Shannon and two of his siblings in July 2011, when the toddler suffered “neurologically devastating” injuries. The child cannot walk, talk or feed himself or see.
Bryce’s 26-year old mother, Collette, was the second witness in the retrial Monday. When Assistant Prosecutor Travis Vieux questioned her, she admitted she married Milby on Jan. 2 and that she and he are living together but her three children, including Bryce who is in a vegetative state, now live with her mother, Jamie Shannon.
When asked by Milby’s attorney Jon Paul Rion if she thought he harmed her son, the very composed Shannon said a firm “no.” When Rion asked her if she thought Milby had hurt her son she said, “I would kill him.”
Shannon smiled affably during most of Vieux’s examination, wept a bit when a photo of her son in the hospital and in his current condition was shown on a big screen in the courtroom, and stormed out of the courtroom when her testimony concluded.
Shannon testified before the jury of seven men, five women and two female alternates that her son had several mishaps in the days and weeks leading up to the time she told Milby to summon her mother after Bryce was “not acting right” the night of July 14, 2011. She said his brother accidentally ran him over with a Power Wheels vehicle and he smacked his head on the pavement. She said her mother told her Bryce fell out of a chair the day of the injuries and may have hit his arm, head or shoulder.
Shannon testified her now 4-year-old son was precocious and used to throw tantrums and throw himself on the ground. She also admitted she had a strong reaction when her mischievous son was caught playing with her make up again while she was taking a shower a few days before Bryce almost died.
“I told him to get out and I slammed the door and it hit him in the back of the head, and the front of his head,” she said.
Shannon said she blames Dayton Children’s Hospital for “not doing enough” to treat her son, but admitted the doctors saved his life by performing an emergency craniotomy to alleviate his brain bleed.
The prosecutors maintain Milby savagely attacked the boy. Assistant Prosecutor Julie Kraft during opening statements told the jury a “preeminent” child abuse expert will tell them precisely what caused Bryce to now be in a vegetative state.
“He will tell you this is child abuse,” she said. “The injuries that Bryce had, they were the result of an acceleration and deceleration force that was delivered upon him. The injuries were acute, they happened a short period of time prior to Bryce presenting to Dayton Children’s urgent care. Those injuries were inflicted during the period of time he was in sole custody of Jason Milby. Those injuries have left now 4-year-old Bryce Shannon in a neurologically devastated state.”
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