Deliberations begin in case of sailor accused of killing his daughter
January 19, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Deliberations began Thursday in the case of Seaman Recruit Jonathan Delgado, a Misawa sailor accused of killing his infant daughter by shaking her to death.
“This isn’t a case of whodunit — it’s a case of what happened,” prosecutor Cmdr. Dave Karpel told jurors.
Impassioned closing arguments characterized both sides, with the prosecution calling the evidence against Delgado “inescapable” and the defense calling the court-martial “a witch hunt.”
Defense attorney Lt. James Jung accused prosecution witnesses of “playing with the facts” and asserted that a letter written by the baby’s grandmother to Adm. William Fallon found in a Naval Criminal Investigative Service file put pressure on investigators to finger someone.
“This man is innocent, and you know it,” Jung told jurors, cautioning the eight-member panel not to seek the “emotionally satisfying answer” over the rational one.
The defense maintains that Kylie Delgado died of sudden infant death syndrome. They say Jonathan Delgado — a loving father — awoke on July 15, 2006, to find the baby “cold” and “blue” in the bed beside him in the Misawa Air Base apartment he shared with his wife, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michelle Delgado.
Both sailors were assigned to Naval Information Operations Command, where Michelle Delgado was working at the time of the incident.
The baby’s injuries — a brain hemorrhage, cracked ribs and bleeding in her retinas — are coincidence and could have been caused by things other than child abuse, like the cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts, Jung said.
But Karpel said the case was “clear.” Nine doctors treated the baby and systematically eliminated all other causes for the injuries, leaving “just one thing, and one thing only — trauma,” he said.
Kylie was a “healthy, smiling” baby until Delgado was alone with her that morning, Karpel said.
Although Delgado didn’t likely intend to kill her, he shook her hard enough to cause “major, gripping” injury, Karpel told the court.
Delgado also initially omitted the fact that he left the baby in the care of baby sitters while he went to a poker game the night before the incident in an NCIS statement, Karpel said.
He also noted and the emergency medical technicians who responded to his 911 call said the bed was “suspiciously” made when they arrived.
“All Kylie asks is that you listen and ask ‘what happened to her,’” Karpel said. “Give the baby justice.”
More than 20 witnesses testified in the court-martial, which was in its seventh day Thursday.
The jury was to continue deliberations on Friday on a charge of murder and lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide.
According to the two-thirds concurrence law, “guilty” votes by six out of the eight members are needed for a conviction.