Chris Allred convicted of nearly killing infant son
Jurors didn't believe that a 74-day-old boy's legs could be twisted and broken, his buttocks forcefully bruised, his retinas hemorrhaged and his brain deprived of oxygen, inducing strokes, by a simple accident.
The Caldwell Superior Court jury deliberated less than 20 minutes Friday before convicting the boy's father, Christopher Lee Allred, 21, of Lenoir, of felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury.
After the verdict was read was the first time during the day's court proceedings that the boy's mother, Portia Hill, did not quietly weep in the front row of the courtroom.
When Allred stood to be sentenced, this time he was the one who cried.
"I'm really not a bad person," Allred told the judge. "I always try to stay out of trouble." Then his emotions began to choke him, and he was able to say only a little more.
Judge Thomas Edwards sentenced Allred to 65 to 90 months in prison.
The boy, Alija Ta'Ron Allred, was injured May 30, 2012, while alone for several hours at home with his father. When Hill came home that evening, Alija was pale and unresponsive to her, Hill testified Wednesday. Allred told investigators that he had been playing video games all day and did nothing but feed Alija, change his diaper and bounce him on his lap.
Allred's attorney, Joe Delk III, argued to the jury Friday that whatever injuries were sustained by Alija could have been accidental and the result of a young, inexperienced father's mistakes.
"He's a young father who didn't know any better," Delk said. "Chris is not a bad person. Inexperienced. But he's not mean."
But assistant district attorney Dawn Tutterow reminded the jurors of how doctors described the severity of the injuries in testimony earlier in the week: legs fractured just below the knees in a way that would take pulling or twisting "like wringing out a towel," severe bleeding from his eyes' retinas, a pattern of bruising on the buttocks that indicates not just a spank but a forceful blow, and brain damage so severe that "his brain wasn't getting oxygen."
"These injuries that Alijah sustained were catastrophic injuries. There were life-threatening injuries, still are life-threatening injuries," Tutterow said.
Such injuries don't accumulate over a long period of time or come from bouncing in a lap or even from a fall off of a bed, she said. Only Allred and Alijah were there when Alijah was injured; Allred denied he did anything severe, and Alijah couldn't speak, but "his body speaks to you," Tutterow told the jurors. "It's a significant force (that caused the injuries). ... That's what Alijah is telling you."