Salch man on trial for allegedly assaulting baby

Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Salcha man is on trial, accused of assaulting his girlfriend's 9-month-old baby, whose injuries included three broken bones and bruising to his head.

Ralph N. Wells, 21, is charged with four counts of felony third-degree assault for allegedly causing serious injuries to the boy on several occasions between Aug. 1 and Sept. 22, 2002.

During a brief opening statement Wednesday, prosecutor Jenel Domke outlined the charges to the jury and said the injuries were reported when the 20-year-old mother brought the baby to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Medical personnel examining the boy discovered he had fractures to both of his ankles and a forearm as well as bruises on his head.

In his opening statements and in cross-examination of witnesses Wednesday, defense attorney Robert Noreen suggested that the baby's injuries were not caused by Wells but were the result of a number of incidents, including the baby falling and the mother mishandling or neglecting the child.

During a tape-recorded interview played in court Wednesday, Wells is heard telling an Alaska State Trooper that on Sept. 22 the baby had piled up all the blankets and toys in his crib and used the stack as a step to climb out before falling and hitting his head on the floor. Wells' trial is expected to be complete by the end of this week.

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