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Chaumont man guilty of all counts in infant assault case

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A Jefferson County Court jury deliberated for less than two hours total Monday and Tuesday before determining that a Chaumont man was responsible for seriously injuring an infant in his care a year ago.

Kelly K. Keegan, 33, was found guilty of the top count of an indictment, first-degree assault, as well as two counts each of second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child and single counts of reckless assault against a child and third-degree assault.

He faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment at sentencing May 8.

The jury, which deliberated for about an hour Monday and less than an hour Tuesday after a six-day trial, ruled that Mr. Keegan was responsible for injuries suffered by 11-month-old Kate Cawvey, daughter of his former girlfriend, Tayler E. Glass, on March 18, 2011, at Mrs. Glass’s home on Empie Road in Three Mile Bay. It had been alleged that Mr. Keegan shook, slammed or threw the child so that she struck her head on a hard surface, causing a brain injury. The child has been left blind by the incident and has no control of her arms or legs.

In closing statements before the jury received the case, defense attorney John W. Hallett said investigators hurriedly decided Mr. Keegan had caused the infant’s injuries without considering the child’s recent medical history. According to trial testimony, in the weeks leading up to March 18, the child had been seen by three doctors after Mrs. Glass had observed that she was lethargic, had stopped crawling and standing on her own and had a decreased appetite. No diagnosis was ever made.

Mr. Hallett told jurors that it was possible that an earlier injury had manifested itself only on March 18 and it would be wrong to blame Mr. Keegan for her condition solely because he was the last person to care for her before the physical problems became apparent.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you don’t have to have gone to medical school to know that there was something wrong with this child before March 18,” Mr. Hallett said.

He said Mr. Keegan had given police a statement indicating he had accidentally dropped the child in the shower in early March, with the child’s head hitting the side of a bathtub, and that was when the child’s problems began.

“We are not here to persecute someone for an accident,” Mr. Hallett said.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Aaron D. Carr said testimony revealed that the extent of the child’s injuries showed that it would have been impossible for doctors and others not to have recognized the seriousness of the injuries if they had occurred before March 18. He said a magnetic resonance imaging performed on the child March 8 showed no brain damage, and several people who observed the child March 17 saw no evidence of extensive bruising that was present the next day. He also said jurors should reject Mr. Keegan’s assertion to investigators that the child had injured her head while falling on golf clubs.

“It was not from a fall; it was from an adult,” Mr. Carr said. “Children do not get hurt in this way from a fall.”

He said that by Mr. Keegan’s own admissions to investigators, the child had been hurt three times while in his care from Feb. 25 to March 18, 2011. Mr. Carr maintained that on March 18, the child was injured in the morning, but Mr. Keegan did not seek medical care until late in the afternoon.

“That is a complete and utter disregard for her life,” Mr. Carr said.

Judge Donald E. Todd ordered Mr. Keegan held without bail at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building pending sentencing.

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