published Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Chattanooga: Grand jury to consider shaken baby case

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    Dustin James McCord, 22, was charged with aggravated child abuse after what police termed was an incident of shaken baby syndrome. A release from the police department said they had been contacted by staff at Erlanger hospital who said “a 5-month-old baby had been brought in suffering from a seizure and exhibiting past and present shaken-baby symptoms.”

A judge has sent a case to the Hamilton County grand jury in which a 23-year-old man is accused of shaking his girlfriend’s 5-month-old baby, likely causing permanent neurological injuries.

In the courtroom of Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon, witnesses testified Tuesday that defendant Dustin McCord told police he was alone with Jayden Bartholomew for about five minutes on June 4 when the child’s limbs stiffened and his eyes rolled back in his head.

McCord, who said he was bottle-feeding the infant at the time, took the child to Monica Bartholomew, the baby’s mother, who was at the next-door neighbor’s residence. They then called an ambulance.

McCord is being held on a $60,000 bond on an aggravated child abuse or neglect charge.

Dr. Marvin Hall, a physician at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, testified that, when he examined Jayden, the boy had fresh bleeding behind his eyes, around the brain and spinal cord, indicating that the injuries were, at most, only hours old. The injuries also match common factors connected to “shaken baby syndrome,” he testified.

Hall said he also discovered pools of older blood in the boy’s brain and spinal cord, indicating injuries from days or weeks before.

The boy has since been discharged, but Hall said the child likely will face permanent neurological damage and possible blindness.

Chattanooga police continue to investigate the case.

Monica Bartholomew invoked her constitutional right not to testify in the hearing.

Her attorney, Ryan Hanzelik, explained to Moon that his client was in a “very difficult position” because she wanted to help the investigation but not put herself in a position to face charges.

McCord sat with his attorney, Phillip Duval, in a red Hamilton County Jail uniform and nodded at different points during testimony.

Through his cross-examination of Hall, Duval widened the possible time in which the injuries to Jayden could have happened, noting that the injuries could have occurred before McCord picked up the child.

“Could the baby have been shaken, put in bed and picked up by someone else?” Duval asked.

“Yes,” Hall answered.

Monica Bartholomew had left Jayden with McCord and gone next door about five minutes before the incident, according to testimony.

Assistant District Attorney Charlie Minor called both Hall and Chattanooga police Detective Galen Fugh to testify.

Fugh responded to the call and questioned both McCord and Monica Bartholomew. He said the investigation was still ongoing as to the child’s older injuries.

Moon repeatedly clarified the order of events reported by Fugh reported as well as the doctor’s time frame of possible injuries.

“I think the time windows are very relevant, they may end up being the crux of the case,” Moon told attorneys.

Contact staff writer Todd South at or 423-757-6347.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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