-- — A Ripley County jury deliberated for nearly seven hours Aug. 30 before finding a former reserve deputy sheriff, Zebulan Hildebrand, Holton, guilty of battery resulting in serious bodily injury and aggravated battery, said Ric Hertel, Ripley County prosecuting attorney.
The jury trial presided by Special Judge Jon Cleary lasted for four days in the Ripley Circuit Court. The Dearborn County judge was appointed by Ripley Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul, who recused himself.
The defendant was initially charged with hurting his 2-month-old son Aug. 12, 2011. The baby was seen initially seen at Margaret Mary Community Hospital, but was transferred by medical helicopter to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “He suffered bleeding on his brain (subdural hematoma), bleeding in his eyes (retinal hemorrhages) and a liver laceration,” Hertel reported. The child remained hospitalized for 10 days. Expert testimony from the doctors cited "non-accidental" trauma, the prosecutor said. “Testimony was also elicited that with the constellation of these injuries, the only correct diagnosis was child abuse.”
Indiana State Police Detective Tracy Rohlfing investigated and testified. He interviewed the defendant, who admitted to "shaking" and "jerking" his son.
The defense argued that this was an accident and Hildebrand should be acquitted. The defendant testified on his own behalf along with his wife and his brother, a current Ripley County Sheriff’s Office detective.
Hertel commented, “There are many losers in this case, not just the victim. The mother and siblings have endured much also.”
Sentencing is set for Sept. 19 at 8:30 a.m. The convictions are Class B felonies and carry six to 20 years.