Man, 24, convicted of abusing daughter

Shaking of 6-month-old caused severe injuries

March 04, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A 24-year-old man accused of violently shaking his 6-month-old daughter in their North Laurel home last year, leaving her with severe injuries, was convicted yesterday of child abuse, assault and reckless endangerment.

A jury in Howard County Circuit Court deliberated for nearly three hours before returning guilty verdicts against McKim McKenny Simmons, rejecting his version of events - that his daughter fell off a bed - in favor of a Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor's contention that the girl's head injuries were caused by "abusive" shaking.

Simmons, who faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on the child abuse conviction, is scheduled for sentencing May 20 by Judge Diane O. Leasure.

The girl, now 18 months old, was "on the verge of dying" when paramedics rushed her from her home in the 9700 block of Lady Slipper Court to Howard County General Hospital on March 18, prosecutor Mary Murphy told jurors yesterday. The child was transferred to Hopkins because of the severity of her injuries.

Doctors found bleeding in more than one part of her brain, retinal hemorrhages and a skull fracture, according to testimony.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Stephen Musselman tried to deflect the blame to the girl's mother, who did not testify. The mother left for work about an hour before Simmons called 911, according to evidence.

But Dr. Allen R. Walker, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Hopkins, testified that the girl would have shown symptoms "immediately" after the injuries were inflicted.

After yesterday's verdict, prosecutors Murphy and Lisa Brown said they were happy to get justice for the little girl.

"At least somebody will be held accountable for what she will permanently have to live with," Murphy said.

Musselman, whose client broke down in the courtroom after the verdict was read, called the case a "tragedy."

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