A Nephi man was found guilty Friday of negligent homicide in the death of his girlfriend's 5-month-old infant last October.
Jose Para, 23, Nephi, was found guilty of the class A misdemeanor by an eight-member jury. Negligent homicide was the least of three guilty charges the jury could have returned. Para had been charged with second-degree murder.Five-month-old Arthur D. Beason Jr. died Oct. 22, 1990. He was the son of Maria Beason, Nephi.
Judge John Walquist, who presided in the 4th District Court trial, reduced Para's bail from $20,000 to $2,000 after the verdict was returned.
Juab County Attorney Don Eyre Jr., assisted by Rob Parrish, representing the state attorney general's office, requested a presentence report. Sentencing was set for 1 p.m. June 4.
The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is a $5,000 fine and one year in the county jail or any combination thereof. The judge may consider time Para has already spent in jail. Para has been held in Juab County Jail since Oct. 18, when the baby was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center.
Friday, Para was returned to Juab County Jail until he posts the $2,000 bond or until sentencing. Eyre said a presentence report usually takes about four weeks.
Para took the stand in his own defense Friday with Hilda Thomas, Nephi, acting as translator. At times Para was tearful as he recounted the events of the day the baby was taken by helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City and again, when he told how he had been separated from Maria Beason and her daughter, Sammi, for six months while he awaited trial.
Para said that on Oct. 16, the baby became ill.
The baby was taken to Dr. Nolan Money in Payson the next day and was given a prescription. Maria Beason stayed home with the baby on the 17th, said Para. The morning of the 18th, said Para, the mother had to return to work.
Para said he played with the baby for a while. "He really wasn't crying that much," said Para through Thomas. Para said he bounced the baby on his knee. "I was just playing with him. I just wanted to make him laugh. I wanted to make him smile."
Sammi tried to climb on his knee, too, he said, and the infant slipped from his grasp and fell to the carpeted floor. Para said he lay on the bed with the baby for a while. At 3:30 p.m. he gave the baby his medicine and a bottle and laid him in his crib. When he checked 15 minutes later, the baby was sleeping.
At 5 p.m. he checked the baby and found he was limp and did not respond.
He grabbed a blanket and Sammi and drove to Canyon Hills. Two nurses gave the baby cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Para denied ever shaking the baby or seeing his mother shake him. He is the third child in a family of 12, and his parents taught him to support a baby's head, he said.
Earlier in the trial, two doctors testified that the child's injuries were consistent with "shaken baby syndrome."
"I really think the doctors would like to decide this case for you," said defense attorney Milton Harmon. "You jurors are the only ones out of all the millions of people in this world to decide this case," he said.