FAIRFIELD — Testimony got underway Wednesday in the jury trial of a Suisun City foster father who faces a murder charge for the 2010 death of his 3-month-old foster child.
Reginald Tanubagijo, 57, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and felony child abuse causing death.
The prosecution case began with the police and paramedics who went to Tanubagijo’s home on the night of Nov. 29, 2010. The infant appeared to have choked on milk when the first police officer got to the house after Tanubagijo and his wife had called 911 and started CPR. The police officer took over the CPR effort until paramedics arrived and took the child to the hospital a few minutes later.
Prosecutor Robert Hightower told jurors that doctors at NorthBay Medical Center quickly discovered the child had a serious internal brain injury. The child was flown to Children’s Hospital Oakland, where he died several days later.
Hightower told jurors that proof of Tanubagijo’s guilt would be found in his initial description of the choking and then only after being confronted with news of the baby’s head trauma, adding that he had accidentally dropped the baby – and then his description of accidentally knocking the baby from a kitchen table, causing him to land head first on the granite flooring.
Authorities believe Tanubagijo violently shook the child and possibly struck the child’s head against an object, causing a severe head injury. Supporting that account will be the testimony of the doctor who conducted a partial autopsy on the baby. Dr. Michelle Jordan is expected to be on the witness stand throughout much of Thursday when the trial resumes.
Tanubagijo’s defense attorneys, Jaye Ryan and Thomas Maas, are expected to challenge Jordan’s findings. Ryan told jurors Wednesday that Jordan has a history of being enlisted by prosecutors who seek experts who concur with their beliefs.
Ryan told jurors the baby had prior health problems and that prosecutors had no evidence that Tanubagijo had been goaded by anything causing him to abruptly act out in an angry or hostile way.
Judge Robert Bowers has told jurors the trial would likely take three weeks.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the child’s biological mother is on hold until after the criminal trial.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.