Originally Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2013, 5:58 pm
Last Updated: Sept. 24, 2013, 7:33 pm

ER doctor testifies in trial of RI man charged with child battery

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By Rachel Warmke, rwarmke@qconline.com

Lateef Maurice Jackson

A thin pair of red nylon track pants and a faded beige T-shirt was the only evidence a jury saw Tuesday of the alleged abuse of a 4-year-old boy by his babysitter.

Moline Police Detective Marcella O'Brien held up the small articles of clothing which the child reportedly told her were used March 13 to bind his hands and feet while he was undressed in his bedroom at his mother's Moline apartment. The boy reported he then was punched repeatedly with closed fists.

When first asked by police who "hurt his tummy," the boy replied, "My daddy," Detective O'Brien said during the second day of trial in Rock Island County. She said when the child was asked again, he said "'Mommy's friend' did it."

On Monday, multiple witnesses called by prosecutor Jennifer Gardner said the term "Mommy's friend" was used exclusively by the boy to refer to Lateef M. Jackson, 30, of Rock Island, who was in a relationship with the boy's mother and often babysat her children.

Trial information indicated there is speculation Mr. Jackson may be the boy's biological father, but no paternity tests have been done.

Mr. Jackson, on trial for two felony counts of aggravated battery of a child, remained stoic during the first two days of court proceedings, occasionally conferring with his attorney, Eric Puryear. If convicted, Mr. Jackson faces up to 30 years in prison for the Class X felony charge and up to five years for a Class 3 count of the same nature.

The prosecution was expected to wrap up their evidence Tuesday, but at about 1:45 p.m., presiding Judge Jeffery O'Connor halted proceedings and said trial would resume this morning. Once the prosecution rests its case, the defense will have an opportunity to present additional witnesses before the jury deliberates.

Additional testimony Tuesday echoed a story presented by prosecutors Monday of a boy badly wounded.

The 4-year-old and his 6-year-old sister were left in the care of Mr. Jackson on March 13 while their mother, Briana Pilcher, was at work. When she discovered bruises littering her son's stomach that night, she called police and drove her son to Trinity Medical Center.

Emergency department physician Michael Barr said that, at 10 p.m. March 13, the boy was in the fetal position in a bed and saying little, except to occasionally moan in pain.

The boy's stomach showed a "massive amount of bruising on the abdominal wall," Dr. Barr said, and lab tests confirmed a staggering spike in his liver enzymes — "They were off the charts pretty much," he said — indicative of trauma to the liver.

"There was a significant threat that this was a very serious injury," Dr. Barr testified, adding there was a concern the boy's bowel or bladder could rupture. He said it was apparent the injuries had occurred within hours of the boy's arrival at the hospital.

Dr. Barr said doctors often discuss the "golden hour" in pediatric injuries associated with blunt force trauma. The first 60 minutes are vitally important to ensure a child receives immediate attention and the body doesn't go into shock, he said.

"His (golden hour) had burned up a long time ago," Dr. Barr said of the boy.

The 4-year-old later was airlifted to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center's Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria where he was treated for several days and released without surgery.

On March 14, the boy identified Mr. Jackson in a photo line-up as "Mommy's friend," Detective O'Brien said, and an arrest warrant was issued.

Police tracked Mr. Jackson's cellphone to the Davenport home of an ex-girlfriend and, on March 18, Davenport police and a SWAT team surrounded the residence. Mr. Jackson walked out voluntarily after police used a megaphone to order him to.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Jackson was on probation for dealing drugs in Rock Island County, an offense he pleaded guilty to in June 2012.

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