LANSING, Mich. — A 4-month-old baby found dead in his bed had 14 fractured ribs, bruising on the "entirety" of his stomach and a broken spine, a forensic pathologist testified.
Azariah Jack's entire stomach was filled with blood and his liver was torn to an extent that would have caused death in minutes, Patrick Hansma, a forensic pathologist at Sparrow Hospital, said.
Hansma testified Friday at a preliminary hearing in 54A District Court in Lansing, which determined there was enough evidence for the child's father, Ricky Jack, to stand trial on murder and child abuse charges.
Ricky Jack. (Photo: Courtesy of Ingham County Jail)
Jack, 33, told police he was the last one to see Azariah alive the night of July 2, and the last one to take care of him, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christina Johnson said.
This, and the fact that Jack has offered no explanation as to how Azariah was injured, was enough probable cause to send Jack to trial, Johnson said.
"He was the only adult with the child throughout the evening," Johnson said.
Patrick Crowley, Jack's attorney, however, said the testimony prosecutors presented was "suspect." No one said anything that proved Jack intentionally, or unintentionally, harmed his son.
In fact, he said, with no timeline for when the injuries could have occurred, it's not possible to tell if Azariah was injured when he was left alone with his father.
Regardless of any timeline, Hansma said it wasn't possible for the child's injuries to have occurred in a single instance. Bleeding in his head and brain would've taken several hours to reach the state it was during Azariah's autopsy, but the liver damage would have killed the child quickly.
Ty'Kesha Dentmond, Azariah's mother, testified that her son had been calmer than normal the day of his death. She'd dropped him and his sister off at the babysitter's, went to work, ran an errand, then picked the kids back up. As they drove home, Azariah began to fuss.
He continued to cry after they got home, and Dentmond tried to change his diaper, thinking he was uncomfortable. Jack returned home, he and Dentmond got in an argument and Dentmond left the kids with him.
Azariah appeared to be asleep when she got home a few hours later. She didn't want to wake him, so she didn't turn on the lights to check on him.
It wasn't until about 3:30 a.m. that night that Dentmond realized something was wrong. Jack woke up her, saying something was wrong with Azariah. They rushed the baby to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"I don't know what he did, and all I can do is hope and pray he'll tell me," Dentmond said. "I didn't think he could do something like that...I've never seen him put his hands on my children."
In an unrelated incident, Jack also is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl, to which he is not related. He was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
He remained in the Ingham County Jail on Friday with no bond. He's set to appear in the Ingham County Circuit Court for an arraignment Dec. 26.
Contact Kara Berg at 517-377-1113 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @karaberg95.
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