After five hours of deliberation Wednesday, a jury found a Helena man guilty of aggravated assault for an attack that left his 4-month-old son with a fractured skull and brain bleeding last year.
Prosecutors charged Aaron Joel Oliphant with felony aggravated assault in June 2016. Medical officials determined the infant was injured by shaking or blunt force trauma, or a combination of both.
His trial in district court lasted three days. The jury returned with the verdict around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Oliphant was the sole caretaker of the boy on June 9, 2016, court documents note. The case was brought to the attention of law enforcement officials after Oliphant and his wife took the baby to the emergency room. The boy had brain bleeding consistent with "non-accidental trauma from a caretaker," the documents state.
At the hospital, Oliphant told a state child protection specialist the baby was the youngest of five children in the household. He said he put the other children to bed the previous night and was watching television while the baby boy was in a bouncer.
Court documents state Oliphant recalled that at 10 p.m. the baby was limp and appeared to not be breathing. After his wife returned home from work about a half hour later, the couple called a relative who is a nurse and she guided them through some tests on the baby. They determined the baby was just tired and put him to bed, the documents state.
When medics assessed the child at St. Peter's Hospital the next morning, staff informed the couple that their baby "had bleeding in his head which was usually associated with someone shaking the baby or dropping the baby on his head," court documents state. The boy was taken to a children's hospital in Salt Lake City for further treatment.