A Palmdale man admitted to punching his girlfriend’s baby five times in the head, and the child’s mother delayed seeking medical care that may have saved his life, according to court testimony.
The testimony came at a preliminary hearing for Brandon Williams and Rosie Lee Wilson. Both were ordered Friday to stand trial for murder in connection with the death of Wilson’s 2-year-old son, Anthony.
Williams was additionally ordered to stand trial for assault on a child causing death, torture, and willful cruelty to a child likely to produce great bodily injury, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
During the preliminary hearing, which started Thursday and ended Friday, three witnesses testified about the events that led up to baby Anthony’s death and the investigation that followed.
Anthony was in a “vegetative state” caused by recent abusive head trauma when admitted to Palmdale Regional Medical Center Aug. 22, 2014, according to testimony from Los Angeles County Deputy Medical Examiner Julia Chu.
Anthony was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, where he was pronounced dead Oct. 5, 2014, Chu said. An autopsy conducted three days later revealed Anthony died of blunt-force head trauma, and had suffered a subdural hematoma – bleeding along the surface of the brain, Chu testified.
“If Anthony had been sent to the hospital earlier… the result might not be death,” Chu said, under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Ted Swanson.
Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau detective Susan Velazquez said she was called to Palmdale Regional Medical Center on Aug. 22, 2014 regarding Anthony. The child had a bandage on his head, he was hooked up to an oxygen machine, and bruises could be seen on the child’s body, Velazquez testified.
The detective said she spoke with hospital staff who said Anthony had a large bruise on the top of his head, as well as bruising on his face, stomach, upper leg, lower back, buttocks and all around his scrotum. The child had both fresh and older bruises, Velazquez testified.
“They also found a tooth in his abdomen,” Velazquez said.
The detective said she spoke with both Wilson and Williams at the hospital regarding Anthony’s injuries. Wilson’s story kept changing, and she claimed she did not know how her son had gotten injured, Velazquez said.
“The majority of the bruising she said she had not seen,” Velazquez testified.
Williams was not forthcoming at first, but he began to confess once his mother joined the conversation, Velazquez said.
“He just started crying and became very emotional…” the detective said. “He finally said that Anthony had fallen and he was trying to comfort him but he would not stop crying.”
Velazquez said Williams confessed to hitting the child on Aug. 21, 2014, and he said he did so out of frustration.
“He said he punched him five times in the head,” Velazquez testified.
Williams also confessed to an abusive incident three weeks prior when he “blanked out” and hit the child a few “good ones” in the back, Velazquez testified.
The detective said she placed Williams under arrest and then brought Wilson into the conversation, but Anthony’s mother remained in denial.
Wilson said she did not seek medical attention three weeks prior because the child’s injuries did not look that bad, Velazquez said.
Wilson also lied about her whereabouts on Aug. 21, 2014, the night Williams said he punched the child in the head, according to Velazquez. Wilson first said she was at Walmart during the incident, then she later admitted she was at a Karaoke bar, Velazquez said.
Baby Anthony was in distress when Wilson returned from the bar that night, but Wilson did not seek medical attention until the following day when she believed the child was having a seizure, Velazquez said. What Wilson believed to be a seizure was most likely “posturing” – rigid body movements indicating severe damage in the brain, according to Velazquez’s testimony. Still, Wilson did not take Anthony to the hospital until hours later, Velazquez testified.
Also testifying at the preliminary hearing was Colleen Brydie. Wilson and Williams had been living in Brydie’s East Palmdale home at the time of the incident.
The couple had been dating for less than three months, Brydie said, and Williams was mentally and physically abusive to Wilson.
“It seemed that Rosie was scared,” Brydie said,
The elder woman said she saw bruises on baby Anthony, but she assumed the toddler’s 4-year-old sister had inflicted the bruises, since the two “fought like cats and dogs.”
Asked why Wilson had delayed taking baby Anthony to the hospital, Brydie said, “She was afraid of losing her kids, she had just gotten them back.”
Williams and Wilson are due back in court Feb. 20 for a second arraignment. Both remain jailed with bail for each set at $2 million.
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