Following an earlier order to stand trial on charges of murder and felony child abuse related to the death of an infant in 2010, a Suisun City foster father pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Solano County Superior Court.
After a four-day probable-cause hearing last month, Judge E. Bradley Nelson ruled that there was sufficient evidence to order Reginald Tanubagijo to stand trial in relation to the death of a 3-month-old boy in his care that he had named Buddy. On Wednesday, Tanubagijo entered his not guilty pleas to both counts and a jury trial date was set for Oct. 10.
The proceedings focused heavily on testimony from medical experts who opined that the baby's injuries were not consistent with an accidental fall.
A Suisun City police officer responded to Tanubagijo's Youngstown Lane home on Nov. 29, 2010, after hearing a medical dispatch for a baby choking on milk. After performing CPR, medical personnel transported the baby to NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, where a CT scan revealed a possible head injury.
Buddy was transported to Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland the following day and died after being taken off life support a week later.
Two experts called to testify by prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Terry Ray noted that the severe retinal hemorrhaging that doctors observed in the child's eyes was consistent with abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome.
However, Tanubagijo's defense counsel,
Martinez criminal defense attorney Jaye Ryan, stated that Tanubagijo was feeding the baby, who was in a Boppy chair -- a cushioned support seat -- placed on top of a table when his foot accidentally stepped on a portion of the tablecloth, sending the chair and child tumbling to the tile floor.
Ryan indicated she may file motions to exclude certain scientific evidence at trial that is not the result of a theory that has "general acceptance" in the scientific community. She spent a considerable amount of time during the probable-cause hearing quizzing the prosecution's experts on their knowledge of the evolving theories surrounding shaken baby syndrome and confronted experts with research to suggest that many "short fall" deaths have been misclassified as "shaken baby" deaths over the years.
On Wednesday, Nelson also took up the issue of Tanubagijo's ability to pay for his attorney. Nelson found that Tanubagijo was eligible for a court-appointed attorney, however, both the Solano County Public Defender and Conflict Defender office's indicated that they could not represent him.
Nelson ultimately appointed Ryan to continue to represent Tanubagijo.
He remains out of custody after posting $800,000 bond.