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DA seeking felony indictment of man charged in infant death

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GOUVERNEUR — Injuries that led to the death of a Gouverneur baby were not inflicted accidentally, a doctor testified at the preliminary hearing of the man accused of killing the 7-month-old boy.

The fracture found at the back of Braylin W. Chambers’s head was a result of something “cataclysmic” and “nonaccidental,” and was caused by a “significant trauma,” said Dr. Donald C. Schuessler Jr., E.J. Noble Hospital medical director, a pediatrician for 29 years.

The doctor’s testimony was a part of a preliminary hearing Monday in Gouverneur Town Court, where Judge Stanley H. Young Jr. found reasonable cause for Gary L. McKenzie to be charged with a felony connected to the child’s death.

The baby was admitted to the emergency room early on July 16 after Mr. McKenzie, 22, of 154 Hailesboro St., Apt. 26, allegedly dropped him on his head.

Mr. McKenzie, who is the fiancé of the infant’s mother, Savanna Goble, claimed he dropped the infant after being scared when the child got sick, police reports said. Trooper Patrick E. Loveland, who questioned him at the apartment after the child was transported to the hospital, recounted during the hearing what he was told.

“He held the child away from his body and he said the child got sick,” Trooper Loveland said. “He said he got scared, stepped back and tripped over the diaper bag.”

Trooper Loveland said that when Mr. McKenzie demonstrated his fall, he retracted his arms and pulled the baby against his chest, then thrust them forward, throwing the child.

The child hit the ground with enough impact to cause his heart and breathing to stop, Dr. Schuessler testified. He said the autopsy he reviewed showed the child suffered a fractured skull and bleeding in the brain.

St. Lawrence County Public Defender Stephen D. Button asked the doctor whether he was able to determine when the fractures took place, as the infant had bruising on his head from what was reported as a fall three or four days earlier.

Dr. Schuessler, who did not perform the autopsy, said he could not determine when the fractures happened, but said coagulation of blood on the brain showed there might have been damage done prior to the fatal event.

“There were multiple bruises about the forehead and eyes that were not accidental,” Dr. Schuessler said. “None of the injuries looked accidental and they were done with significant force.”

Additionally, Trooper Loveland said, the placement of the diaper bag in the room was something he found odd, even after Mr. McKenzie told him that he had moved things around before police arrived.

He said he found it strange that in a time of crisis, Mr. McKenzie would stop and clean up while the child was on the floor injured.

“I would have never have thought to put all the contents back in the bag,” Trooper Loveland said. “In an emergency situation, that is the furthest thing from your mind. The most important thing is living and breathing.”

But Mr. Button said that the arguments made in court didn’t prove recklessness, only that an accident occurred.

Mr. McKenzie has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and reckless assault of a child, a felony.

Mr. Button requested the court release his client under probationary supervision as he said he believed there was failure to find evidence of a felony, and his ties to the Fort Drum as a private first class in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, keep him from being a flight risk.

District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé said not only had there been evidence of a felony being committed, but multiple felonies, and she would seek additional charges that would include manslaughter.

The district attorney alleged that Mr. McKenzie sent a text message to Ms. Goble asking her to lie to police investigators about what happened. Ms. Goble is in Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, with a broken pelvis and a shattered femur after a car crash last week; otherwise, Ms. Duvé said, she would have been a witness in Monday’s preliminary hearing.

Judge Young issued an order of protection in favor of Ms. Goble and sent Mr. McKenzie to St Lawrence County jail, Canton, on $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond while the case is brought before a grand jury.

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