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Johnstown man headed to trial on child abuse allegations
By: Maria Miller
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A man accused of beating his 1-year-old daughter is going to trial.
Johnstown detectives said it's one of the worst cases of abuse they've ever seen, but in court Monday, the suspect and his attorneys denied any wrongdoing.
Police said Maurice Davis has told them from day one that his daughter had fallen down the steps when he found her unconscious in January. And while that fall may have been an accident, doctors testified on Monday that the child had far worse injuries than just a tumble down the stairs.
Police said the 16-month-old child was rushed to a hospital by ambulance in January after Davis phoned 911 himself, saying the girl had fallen down the attic stairs. But when she got to the hospital, she was immediately rushed to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC because she had severe brain damage, internal bleeding, fractured bones, and scrapes and bruises all over her body, police said.
In court Monday a doctor from Children's Hospital testified that those injuries are not consistent with just a fall down the stairs, but rather direct impact and forceful shaking.
"She has also given a medical opinion that this is unequitable child abuse and that it is impossible that this constellation of injuries could have occurred from a fall down the stairs," said Tamara Bernstein, assistant district attorney for Cambria County. "[She said] that this constellation of injuries had to occur due to child abuse."
Prosecutors said Davis was the only one around when the child was found unconscious at the bottom of the steps. It's something Davis admits, but his attorney said the fall itself was merely a horrible accident and certainly something Davis never intended to happen.
"Mr. Davis no way intended for any harm to come to this child, nor did he show any malice to this child that he would have in some way wanted to cause to her," said Dan Kiss, Davis' defense attorney. "It's terribly an unfortunate situation."
Davis' parents, aunt and the mother of one of his other children were all in court Monday to support him. They didn't want to go on camera but through tears said how good of a father he is to his other children and that he was just meeting this child for the first time, hoping to make her a part of their family when a terrible accident happened. They also said they have evidence to prove he wasn't behind the other injuries doctors found and said they look forward to providing that at trial.
In the meantime, Davis remains in jail on $200,000 bond. A judge is expected to reconsider that bond later this week.