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DAY CARE OPERATOR TO STAND TRIAL; WOMAN ACCUSED OF HURTING BABY BY SHAKING HIM.

Byline: Don Holland Daily News Staff Writer

A Simi Valley day care operator accused of shaking a baby so severely he suffered permanent brain damage was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges that could send her to prison for more than a decade.

Margaret Mary Major sat stoically and the baby's mother, Jennifer Read, wept as investigators recounted medical reports stating that Jack Read may suffer cerebral palsy, partial paralysis and developmental disabilities because of the injury he suffered in September.

Dr. J. Gordon McComb, a neurosurgeon who supervised the boy's treatment at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, told investigators the injuries could have been caused only by shaking or a slap to the back of the head.

``He said it would be equivalent to a person falling from a second-story building and striking a concrete surface,,'' said Matthew Basolo, an investigator with the District Attorney's Office.

The boy, now 20 months old, was hospitalized for five weeks before being released for outpatient therapy.

Major, 48, who operated the Major Family Day Care center from her Finchley Court home, is charged with one count of inflicting corporal injury to the boy. She also is charged with the special allegation of inflicting great bodily injury. If convicted on both counts, she could be sentenced up to 11 years in prison.

Major remains free in lieu of $20,000 bail. Earlier this year, Major surrendered her day care license and agreed to never again work at a child care center.

According to police, the child was injured Sept. 24 - his third day at Major's home. A doctor who examined the boy just a day before told police that the child was ``happy and healthy,'' said Simi Valley Detective John Parks.

Major, who ran a day care center for 18 years, told police the boy screamed every time she wiped his runny nose or changed his diaper. During one diaper change, Major told Parks, the boy let out a ``blood-curdling scream,'' then fell limp. Major said she thought he had choked but found his jaw clenched when she tried to look.

In an unsuccessful attempt to have charges dismissed, defense attorney John Hutton suggested the injuries could have been caused the night before when the boy fell backward and hit his head on the floor.

But doctors said the boy suffered from shaken baby syndrome and that he would have fallen limp immediately after the injury - not hours later. Major was the only adult at the day care center at the time of the incident, and other children were not strong enough to inflict such serious injuries, according to police.

McComb told investigators that the child suffered hemorrhaging of the membrane that covers the brain, as well as retinal bleeding.

``Dr. McComb tells us . . . that (the baby) was comatose upon arrival at the hospital and that all of these things could be caused only by one thing - shaken impact syndrome,'' Deputy District Attorney John Blair said in summing up his case.

After more than an hour of testimony and argument, Judge James P. Cloninger decided there was enough evidence to order Major to stand trial.

``The evidence seems to be quite clear,'' the judge said. ``This child suffered these injuries at the hands of whatever adult had custody of him.''

After the hearing, Hutton said he believes Major will fare better at trial.

``There are two sides to the story, and I think my client will be vindicated when both sides are heard,'' Hutton said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 14, 1998
Words:582
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