Judge needs more time in former Virginia Tech football player Boyce’s child …

Xavier Boyce sits at the defendant's table in the Montgomery County Circuit Court in a June bench trial, which was delayed until today.

The Roanoke Times | File June

Xavier Boyce sits at the defendant’s table in the Montgomery County Circuit Court in a June bench trial, which was delayed until today.

Posted: 11:51 a.m. | Updated: 9:20 p.m.

After hearing Tuesday’s bench trial for a former Virginia Tech football player facing a felony child endangerment charge, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Bobby Turk said he would need more time before issuing a ruling.

Turk said he expected to have a decision in three weeks to a month on the case of Xavier Boyce, 22, who was arrested in March 2011 on charges of cruelty and injuries to his daughter, who was less than a year old at the time. Boyce’s girlfriend, Olivia Hutchins, was also arrested, but her charges were later dropped in a preliminary hearing.
 
According to testimony from two doctors called as witnesses by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dean Manor, the couple’s child appeared to have suffered from abusive head trauma — which is often called “shaken baby syndrome.” The child was admitted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on two separate occasions, Dec. 2, 2010 and Feb. 1, 2011, according to testimony. On both occasions, the child — who was just six weeks old when first admitted — had subdural hemorrhaging, or blood in her brain. In February 2011, she also had retinal hemorrhaging, according to testimony from the two doctors who examined her on those dates. Both doctors testified that the injuries were consistent with an individual using violent force against the child, like vigorous shaking, they suggested.

Detective Ryan Hite testified Tuesday that Blacksburg police began monitoring the couple, who at that time lived together in an apartment in Blacksburg, after child protective services notified officials of a possible case of child abuse.

Hite said that when he spoke to Boyce in December 2010, Boyce initially stated that he did not know how his daughter’s injuries occurred. Later that day, however, Hite said that Boyce became emotional during a subsequent interview. According to Hite’s testimony, Boyce told Hite that the night before his daughter was admitted to the hospital, Hutchins took NyQuil because she did not feel well and went to sleep. At about 2 a.m., Boyce said he awoke to his daughter’s cries. After taking her out of her bassinet, he tripped on the bassinet and fell, causing his daughter to fall out of his hands, according to Hite’s testimony.

Both doctors who treated the child and testified Tuesday said the fall would not have created enough force to cause the hemorrhaging.

“The type of retinal hemorrhaging I saw … would not be from an accidental cause,” said Dr. John Facciani, a pediatric ophthalmologist who treated Boyce’s daughter in Roanoke.

Hite also testified that Boyce told him in a February 2011 interview that he often played with his daughter, throwing her in the air and catching her, bouncing her on his knee and doing football-like moves in his living room while his daughter was in a baby harness attached to him.

Both doctors again testified that those activities would not cause the hemorrhaging.

Boyce’s defense attorney, Melvin Hill, said that when the child was born, she had blood in her stool and, soon after birth, began vomiting blood. Hill said that the commonwealth cannot rule out a bleeding disorder that the child may have, which could have caused the hemorrhaging. Hill also said that the commonwealth has no direct evidence against Boyce.

Turk said he needed more time to make a decision because he does not have much previous experience with the specific charge Boyce is facing. Turk said because the charge states that the endangering of the child could be willful or negligent, he wants to research previous cases to better understand how negligence could play a role.

After the trial, Hill said the commonwealth had not proved Boyce’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I don’t see any evidence that he did it,” Hill said.
 
Boyce was released after his March 2011 arrest on a $5,000 unsecured bond. He was suspended from the Hokies and transferred to Norfolk State in August 2011, where he continues to play football.
 
According to state code, Boyce could face a maximum of five years in prison if convicted.

Article source: http://www.roanoke.com/news/breaking/wb/313067

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