Editor’s note: We did not name the baby or family members during trial coverage in an effort to protect the victim’s identity.
XENIA — A jury decided that it was the man on trial who killed a 6-week-old baby in a Fairborn home last March.
Kali Christon, 23, faces 15 years to life for the murder and felonious assault of the infant who was in his care at the time of his death.
“We think justice was served for [baby],” Assistant Prosecutor David Hayes said July 10 after the jury returned two guilty verdicts. “We think justice was served for [his] mother and the rest of the family … His life was literally snatched from him … It goes without saying that babies are people, too. And they deserve justice. And so to the extent that we have given [him] a little justice, we’re happy with that.”
Defense Attorney Griff Nowicki said he plans to appeal the decision.
“My client and I appreciate the fact that they (jury) took everything into consideration, and actually thought through this instead of rushing into judgment,” Nowicki said. “We appreciate the fact that they listened intently and then took their time looking through everything and coming up with a verdict. It’s not the verdict that we wanted, of course, but they did their job.”
Medical evidence played a major part in the trial, as the state wrapped up its case with testimonies from a forensic pathologist and a pediatric child abuse expert.
Dr. Kelly Liker, chief of division of child advocacy at Dayton Children’s Hospital, took the stand Wednesday morning.
Liker testified that the extent and severity of the injuries the baby sustained would have caused him to become symptomatic immediately, or within “minutes.” That means the baby could not have sustained those injuries in the days prior to the incident, Hayes explained, noting that the defendant told police officers that the baby “went limp” around 2:30 a.m.
Liker, giving her medical opinions, also testified that the injuries sustained could not have been due to a fall or from being dropped. She said a torn frenulum — the tissue that connects the lip to gum — as found in the baby, is often indicative of force-feeding a bottle or pacifier to keep a baby from crying. And the hemorrhages in the eyes, she said, are consistent with injuries caused by shaking a baby.
“The sum total of the injuries … were the result of physical abuse, and with the head injuries specifically, the abuse of head trauma,” she said in her conclusion.
Nowicki cross-examined Liker, asking her questions about whether or not another young child in the room could have caused the injuries when Christon was downstairs making a bottle. Liker said a 2-year-old child would not be capable of causing such injuries.
Nowicki posed the possibility of older children in the house harming the infant, while prosecutors stuck to the fact that Christon had said none of them were present during the incident.
“He cannot say what happened in the room when he wasn’t there,” Nowicki said.
The jury heard one last time from attorneys before they were released for deliberation.
“The evidence in this case shows you, ladies and gentlemen, as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it is, that on March 8, 2018, a young man, who was taking care of a 6-week-old baby, was awakened by that baby,” Hayes said. “He couldn’t calm that baby down. He got frustrated with the baby crying. The baby wouldn’t take the bottle. So he shoved the bottle in the baby’s mouth, tore his frenulum. The baby still wouldn’t calm down. And then he started to hit the baby. The sole caregiver of the child, who was up with the child at 2:30 in the morning, is the one who caused the injuries.”
Nowicki also addressed the jury.
“My client suffered an unbelievable tragedy,” he said. “Not only did the child die in his arms but he tried to resuscitate the child. He tried everything. He could still hear a heartbeat, so he kept trying CPR … He tried everything that he could.”
Sentencing is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, July 11.