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STUTTGART, Germany — A court-martial began Wednesday of a soldier accused of twice shaking his 2-month-old stepson in the fall of 2004.

Spc. Robert Hayes of 554th Military Police Company is charged with two counts of assault consummated by battery on a minor under age 16.

If convicted, Hayes could be imprisoned for up to four years, reduced in rank to private, and face forfeiture of future pay and benefits and an dishonorable discharge.

The case is being heard by a seven-member jury panel. The judge is Denise Lind.

Defense attorneys are portraying Hayes as a cooperative witness, and said that the medical evidence does not prove an assault occurred.

On Nov. 30, 2004, Hayes went to his neighbor’s door in the Robinson Barracks apartment and was holding his infant stepson, who was naked, wet and gasping for air, according to testimony.

The boy’s skin was bluish-gray. The boy’s mother, who is married to Hayes, was at the installation’s fitness center at the time.

German medics arrived and revived the infant, who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Two doctors testified on Wednesday that the infant had symptoms of shaken-baby syndrome, that is, light bleeding in the back of his eyes and damage in the fluid area between his skull and brain.

Defense attorneys are contending that the symptoms could have resulted from a number of causes.

Testimony is scheduled to resume on Thursday.

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