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A military panel at U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, Guam, on Tuesday found a sailor innocent of murder in connection with the death of his infant son.

The court-martial panel of Navy personnel heard closing arguments Tuesday against Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Shepherd, accused of murdering his 1-month-old son, Jonathan Aidan Shepherd, by shaking him to death. The baby died Sept. 22 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam. Uniform Code of Military Justice charges against Shepherd were filed Sept. 29; his court-martial began April 7.

Shepherd, 27, an aviation machinist mate assigned to the Marianas Training Office, was released after the verdict was read, said base spokeswoman Lt. Arwen E. Consaul, who attended the court-martial.

The defendant didn’t testify; his former wife Candice Shepherd, family members, other military personnel and physicians took the stand.

Doctors testified the baby died from repeated shakes that caused the veins in his brain and eyes to rupture but said they could not determine who caused the fatal injury, Consaul explained.

Lt. Casey Self, a hospital doctor, said when a baby is shaken to death, the murderer “doesn’t leave fingerprints,” Consaul said Wednesday, recalling the physician’s testimony.

According to Consaul, Shepherd’s defense attorneys, Lt. Randy Vavra from Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, and Lt. Andy House said the charges against Shepherd were “speculation” and the result of “a rush to judgment.”

The prosecutors, Lt. Christopher V. Phan from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, and Lt. Joseph Judkins, said during closing arguments that Shepherd had a history of anger-management issues, the spokeswoman noted.

She said Vavra made the point Tuesday that there could have been other suspects. The defense also pointed to the investigation by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service as lacking thoroughness, based largely on the mother’s accusation.

The spokeswoman said House argued that “it’s just speculation” by prosecutors, “it’s just their opinion.”

Consaul said that “especially after the doctor’s testimony ... It was a very emotional setting for all of us yesterday” — including Shepherd, who was “wiping his eyes” as he sat between his attorneys and listened to arguments.


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