The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 7, 2014

Dad faces Snyder County trial in assault on baby

LEWISBURG — SELINSGROVE — A Selinsgrove man accused of severely injuring his 4-month-old son in October will remain in the Snyder County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail on attempted homicide, aggravated assault and related charges as the case heads to trial.

District Judge John H. Reed ruled Monday there was sufficient evidence to transfer the charges against Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, 29, to the county Court of Common Pleas following an 80-minute preliminary hearing.

At the hearing, Dauntless Hook & Ladder Ambulance paramedic Brian Kane testified that he responded to the 911 call Ibrahim made from his West Snyder Street home in Selinsgrove on Oct. 28 reporting that his son, Ali, was unresponsive.

When Kane arrived at the home, he said, the infant was unable to breath on his own and Ibrahim informed him the child had choked during a bottle feeding.

“The story remained consistent, that it happened suddenly and during feeding,” Kane testified.

Dr. Paul Bellino, a Geisinger Medical Center in Danville who specializes in child abuse cases, examined Ali a day later at the hospital and disputed Ibrahim’s version that the infant suddenly developed serious symptoms after medical personnel concluded the child had suffered a brain injury, numerous retinal hemorrhages and a rib and wrist fractures.

Bellino said he also spoke to the child’s mother, Victoria Biggs, and found the claim that her son was injured three days earlier while at a day care center not to be credible.

Selinsgrove borough police Chief Thomas Garlock testified that he investigated the claim and found no evidence the child was injured in the day care.

“I believe (Ali) was the victim of abusive head trauma,” Bellino testified. “A shaking injury, most likely. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon event.”

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Hugh Benson, Bellino said it would not be normal for the symptoms displayed by Ali to unfold as they did if he had suffered trauma a few days earlier.

“Something happened that very day” at the time Ibrahim made the 911 call or just before it. And, the physician added, “If it was accidental, I would expect someone to tell me. I know something serious happened to this child.”

According to Garlock’s investigation, Ibrahim was the only person with the baby for a little more than an hour before paramedics were called to the home. Ibrahim had dropped Biggs off at work earlier that afternoon and shortly afterward he was captured on surveillance cameras inside a local mall with the infant. About 70 minutes after he was videotaped in the mall, Ibrahim was calling 911 from his home.

“No one else had custody of the baby,” Garlock said.

He suggested Ibrahim may have been upset by “marital discord” in his relationship with Biggs due to a series of postings she made on the social website, Facebook, a few days earlier.

Citing a lack of conclusive evidence against Ibrahim, Benson asked the judge to dismiss the charges.

District Attorney Michael Piecuch said the charges against Ibrahim are supported by circumstantial evidence, and he referred to claims that the infant could have been harmed days earlier at the day care as “a red herring.”

Ruling in favor of the commonwealth, Reed said the evidence shown to him revealed that the infant’s symptoms would have developed sooner if the injury had occurred outside the home.

Reed also declined to reduce the $1 million bail, despite learning from Benson that Ibrahim, a native of Egypt, is living in the United States on a valid visa and had his passport seized at the time of his arrest.

Biggs, who has publicly spoken out in support of Ibrahim, sat directly behind her husband during the hearing.

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