Man receives probation in abuse of baby
A case involving a Fruita infant who suffered brain injuries and a skull fracture resolved on Friday with the prime suspect walking out of a Mesa County courtroom to sign up for probation.
Ricky L. Rogers, 25, of Grand Junction, adamantly denied hurting his former girlfriend’s son — who was 10 months old at the time — while pleading guilty to child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury acting with criminal negligence.
While signaling she was leery of the plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, District Judge Valerie Robison sentenced Rogers to serve four years of intensive, supervised probation. Rogers must undergo mental-health and substance-abuse evaluations and complete parenting and anger-management classes, and he will be subject to random alcohol testing, the judge ruled.
Rogers faces 18 months in Mesa County’s work release program if he violates those terms.
Robison said before issuing a sentence she was hesitant to accept the deal after a pre-sentence investigation deemed Rogers “maximum risk” to re-offend.
In the end, the case ended with no clear explanation about how the boy was hurt.
“I wasn’t there, but we’re here today after a guilty plea,” Robison said.
Fruita police were called to St. Mary’s Hospital on Aug. 29, 2011, after Rogers had driven the boy to the emergency room. He later told police he didn’t realize Fruita had a medical facility much closer to the couple’s home in Fruita.
An arrest affidavit said Rogers and the boy’s mother were home together at the time they said the child was found unconscious. Siblings, a 3-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, also were present.
Police were offered several stories on how the boy was injured. The mother said the boy appeared “lifeless,” injured after being left alone playing with the 3-year-old, the affidavit said.
In a phone conversation, the mother explained to the child’s father the boy had fallen out of his high chair, the affidavit said.
Doctors said neither account matched the injuries, which, aside from the skull fracture, included brain injuries and loss of some peripheral vision. Those same doctors guessed the full extent of the injuries may not be known until ages 8 or 9, the affidavit said.
Nearly five months after the boy was injured, the mother told police that one of the boy’s siblings told her the boy had somersaulted into a dresser and hit his head, attorney Vince Felletter, Rogers’ attorney, told the judge.
She also failed a police polygraph examination, Felletter said. “They’re (DA’s office) really prosecuting the wrong person, in our mind,” he said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand didn’t respond to the claims in court.
In explaining the plea offer, Hand told the judge the DA’s office concluded there was a “50-50” chance of securing a conviction against Rogers at trial.