Trial begins for man accused of shaking his infant son

Posted Dec. 02, 2008, at 1:37 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:10 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Corinth man who had pleaded guilty to shaking and injuring his newborn son went on trial Tuesday in Hancock County Superior Court after the plea agreement fell through.

Nicholas W. Taylor, 30, is facing charges of aggravated assault and assault in connection with the alleged September 2002 incident, in which he is accused of breaking one of his son’s ribs and causing bleeding in his son’s eyes. The infant was 5 weeks old at the time he suffered the injuries, when Taylor was living with his sons and girlfriend in Winter Harbor.

Taylor pleaded guilty to the charges in March of last year but the plea agreement eventually fell through, according to court records. Justice Jeffrey Hjelm rejected the plea agreement, resulting in the case going to trial.

A jury of 11 men and three women heard opening arguments Tuesday morning from Hancock County District Attorney Michael Povich and from defense attorney Andy Slater. Justice Kevin Cuddy is presiding over the trial.

Povich said in his opening remarks that the alleged assault came to light after the infant’s mother noticed he was having seizures in mid-September 2002, only weeks after the infant was born in early August. He said Taylor is accused of squeezing his son and throwing him onto a sofa.

“Mr. Taylor admitted that he squeezed [his son],” Povich told the jury. “[Taylor] caused his nose to bleed [and] caused him to stop breathing for 30 seconds.”

During a break in Tuesday’s testimony, Povich declined to comment on the case.

Slater countered that the infant’s state was the result of medical problems, rather than any criminal behavior from Taylor. He said that two days after the infant was born, he was transferred from Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor because of complications from jaundice. The baby spent four days at the Bangor hospital before his parents first brought him home, he said.

Slater said the prosecution’s theory of what caused the baby’s condition was spurred by increasingly speculative questioning of his client by Maine State Police.

“I’m confident you’re going to say ‘it’s not possible.’ Nick did not do this,” Slater told the jury.

The jury heard testimony Tuesday morning from Dr. Robert Beekman, an Ellsworth pediatrician who treated Taylor’s son immediately after birth and after the alleged assault.

Taylor is also facing a charge of failure to appear in court, connected with the assault charges. Attorney Richard Hartley of Bangor is serving as Taylor’s defense co-counsel in the case.

It took more than two years after the 2002 incident for charges to be filed against Taylor because prosecutors had to wait for Maine Department of Human Services issues to be resolved and had to study medical records of the baby’s injuries, the district attorney said last year. It took another two years to prosecute the case.

The boy, now 6, largely recovered from any injuries.

“Initially, there was some real concern that he had suffered severe head trauma,” Povich said last year. “He was fortunate that great medical care intervened.”

The trial is expected to last two or three days, according to Slater.

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