By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office has concluded it could only prove, if it went to trial, that now-23-year-old Kyle Davison negligently caused injury to a 4-month-old baby when it began choking while in his care.
The child, now 17 months old, has shown slight improvement, but has severe brain damage, according to Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.
“She can’t talk, we don’t think she can see, we’re not sure about her hearing,” Halstead said. “She has a lot of other medical issues she had prior.”
The baby, identified in court documents as A.F.J.L., was airlifted to Marybridge Children’s Hospital and placed on life support after the incident in early October of last year. She’s back home with her mother since August, Halstead said.
Davison was arrested and charged in Lewis County Superior Court at that time, and remains held in the Lewis County Jail.
Doctors disagreed about what caused the injury.
A doctor at the hospital told police that tests indicated inter-cranial hemorrhage, consistent with shaken baby syndrome, according to charging documents.
A second doctor concluded the symptoms were indicative of previous problems, and what happened when the baby started choking, according to Davison’s lawyer, Sam Groberg.
Davison and the baby’s mother, Llacye Faye Link, told police he was watching her when she began choking and stopped breathing and he tried to revive the infant – by patting her back, and then he got scared and shook her – then carried her to a neighboring apartment to get help, according to court documents.
Link and her daughter had been visiting Davison, her former boyfriend, at his home in Mineral, then went to dinner and back to her Morton apartment. Link said she stepped out to buy a bag of pot.
Prosecutors initially charged Davison with first-degree assault of a child, alleging that Davison intentionally hurt the child, inflicting great bodily harm.
When Davison took the infant next door, it either wasn’t breathing, or wasn’t breathing the way he thought it should be, depending on which of the two lawyers you ask.
A deal made last week resulted in Davison making a so-called Alford plea on Thursday morning to third-degree assault of a child. The two sides stipulated the baby was more seriously injured than what would normally accompany that level of assault.
Halstead said he doesn’t have any proof Davison picked up the baby and shook it violently trying to hurt it. The mom doesn’t want to see anything happen to Davison, he said.
Third-degree assault of a child is related to negligence, Groberg said.
“Here, if you’re trying to help, a reasonable person would have done something different,” Groberg said “But he didn’t do it out of maliciousness.”
While the two sides now agree on what would be the proper charge, they disagree about the penalty.
When he is sentenced, Halstead will be asking for the maximum of five years in prison.
The standard sentencing range for the offense is four to 12 months. Groberg said he will recommend his client be sentenced to time served, about a year.
“He feels horrible,” Groberg said. “He probably will always feel horrible.
“He feels like he didn’t do things right; like maybe if he had learned CPR, things would have turned out differently.”
Groberg said the case offers a lesson, for anyone.
“Don’t shake a baby. At all. Under any circumstances,” he said. “Learn CPR.”
Davison will appear in court again on Wednesday to get a hearing scheduled for sentencing.
For background, read “Lawyer seeks second opinion on brain trauma in Morton child assault case” from Monday April 14, 2014, here