Aaron Oliphant

HELENA – After deliberating for five hours, a Helena jury found a man guilty of aggravated assault.

Aaron Oliphant, on trial for severely injuring his four-month-old son last June, took the stand Wednesday and was the only witness for the defense Wednesday morning.

Oliphant told the jury he didn’t learn the extent of his son’s injuries in the case until the trial began this week.

Prosecutors said Oliphant was the sole caregiver on June 8, 2016, when his four-month-old son suffered five skull fractures and retinal bleeding in both eyes.

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Under cross-examination, prosecutor Leo Gallagher asked Oliphant if he knew of any accident taking place that would cause the child to suffer five skull fractures.

Oliphant said, “I don’t have an answer for that.”

Gallagher told the jury the baby was happy and normal when his mother left for work on the evening of the incident, and was screaming uncontrollably and vomiting when she returned from her job four hours later.

Upon examination, doctors said they found the child suffering from non-accidental trauma, threatening the baby’s life.The child was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

The injuries were documented by a CT scan and an MRI and confirmed by teams of doctors in Helena and Salt Lake City.

Defense Attorney J. Mayo Ashley disputed the state’s case, saying the victim had shown signs of illness several days before the incident in question.

As to the injuries suffered by the child, “No one can tell how this child will react as he gets older,” Ashley said.

He faces a maximum of 50 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Sentencing has been set for Nov. 28.

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