Woman accused of injuring infant while babysitting gets bail
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.