Woman ac­cused of in­jur­ing in­fant while babysit­ting gets bail

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - NICOLE O’REILLY

A 45-year-old Hamil­ton woman ac­cused of caus­ing mul­ti­ple bro­ken bones to a two-month-old baby girl she was babysit­ting has been re­leased on bail.

Shelly Kuzyk was charged with ag­gra­vated as­sault Wed­nes­day, nearly two months af­ter po­lice were called to McMaster Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal af­ter a doc­tor deemed the baby’s in­juries sus­pi­cious April 17.

In court Fri­day, Kuzyk was re­leased on $5,000 bail, with the con­di­tion that she live in Dun­nville with her mother, who is act­ing as her surety.

Out­side court, her lawyer, As­gar Manek, said his client will plead not guilty. He couldn’t com­ment on de­tails of the case as he’s still wait­ing for dis­clo­sure.

How­ever, Manek said he is chal­leng­ing the pros­e­cu­tion for try­ing to ref­er­ence Kuzyk’s past — she was charged with the sec­ond-de­gree mur­der of her 15-month old god­son 20 years ago but ac­quit­ted.

“She’s been ac­quit­ted; that should be the end of it,” he said, adding his client doesn’t have a crim­i­nal record.

Paige McGrory said she has been friends and neigh­bours with Kuzyk for about two years. The vic­tim’s fam­ily are also neigh­bours.

She de­scribed Kuzyk as the “kind­est per­son ever” who reg­u­larly helps her with her own 14-year-old son.

McGrory said she of­ten saw Kuzyk asked to watch the baby from the time she was born.

“She’s not the hor­ri­ble per­son this is mak­ing her out to be.”

Yet for Rob Tooke, the father of 15-month-old Tristin Tooke, who died of se­vere head in­juries in 1997, news of Kuzyk’s ar­rest has been up­set­ting re­minder of all he’s lost.

When news broke of the ar­rest, Tooke said he got a flurry of calls from fam­ily mem­bers and has been hav­ing a rough time since.

His son was born pre­ma­ture and had a hard start to life in hos­pi­tal. Yet he grew into the hap­pi­est and eas­i­est baby to care for, Tooke said.

He never had more chil­dren and lives con­stantly with the feel­ing the jus­tice sys­tem failed his fam­ily.

Be­fore Tristin’s death, Kuzyk was child­hood best friends with Rose­marie Si­mon, Tristin’s mother, and Tooke said she seemed nice.

“It’s hard to talk about it, but think­ing about it hurts just as much,” he said through tears.

At the trial, Kuzyk tes­ti­fied that the tod­dler col­lapsed af­ter fall­ing off a wa­terbed at her Hamil­ton apart­ment. Med­i­cal ex­perts, how­ever, agreed the in­juries were not ac­ci­den­tal, with the de­fence sug­gest­ing her ex-fi­ancé could have as­saulted Tristin ear­lier that night.

The ex-fi­ancé was never charged and de­nied hurt­ing the baby boy.

Now dis­cred­ited pathol­o­gist Dr. Charles Smith tes­ti­fied for the de­fence, ar­gu­ing it was im­pos­si­ble to pin­point ex­actly when the fa­tal head in­juries oc­curred, open­ing up the pos­si­bil­ity he was in­jured ear­lier that night.

Tooke asked the Crown at­tor­ney’s of­fice to ap­peal the ac­quit­tal in his son’s case but was told there were no le­gal grounds.

The Min­istry of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral said it was not able to im­me­di­ately an­swer ques­tions about the case and ap­peal process Fri­day.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about the al­leged as­sault or who had their chil­dren babysat by Kuzyk are asked to call Det. John Pauls at 905546-3855.

Her case re­sumes in court on Aug. 15.

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