Defense begins case in foster father homicide case

By From page A12 | July 18, 2014

Reginald Tanubagijo was convicted of killing a 3-month-old boy in his care in Suisun City. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic file 2010)

Reginald Tanubagijo was convicted of killing a 3-month-old boy in his care in Suisun City. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic file 2010)

FAIRFIELD — The defense team in the murder trial for a Suisun City foster father accused of killing a 3-month-old child in 2010 began their effort Thursday to counter prosecutors, who rested their case the previous day.

Reginald Tanubagijo, 57, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and felony child abuse causing death.

Jurors spent the day listening to a defense expert in forensic neuropathology, Dr. Jan E. Leestma, explain in graphic detail why after reviewing the baby’s autopsy records he believes the death was not because of any criminal acts by Tanubagijo.

Leestma, who spent 10 years as neuropathology medical examiner in Chicago and who authored three textbooks on neuropathology, testified that he believes the autopsy evidence shows the baby had pre-existing health problems from a premature birth that were fatally compounded by a fall from a few feet above the ground.

Leestma’s testimony contradicts testimony jurors previously heard from prosecution experts, who concluded their review of autopsy reports pointed to a cause of death from violent shaking and some sort of deliberate trauma.

Defense attorney Jaye Ryan said Tanubagijo will take the witness stand next week as the trial draws toward a close. Ryan also said jurors would hear from several character witnesses who would testify about what a good, peaceful father Tanubagijo is.

The trial is set to resume Monday.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

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