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Prosecutors: Midyette brutally beat son, then surfed Web

Defense contends infant had undiagnosed disorder that caused his death

Published January 16, 2009 at 12:20 p.m.

A father accused of causing the death of his infant son abused the baby so badly that he had more than 30 broken bones and massive bleeding from a skull fracture and then surfed the Internet while his son was having seizures before he finally was taken to the hospital, a prosecutor told a Denver jury today.

But defense attorneys for Alex Midyette said his 11-week-old son had suffered from a rare, undiagnosed metabolic condition that caused his death.

Midyette, 29, is charged with child abuse resulting in the death of his infant son, Jason in March 2006. He is the son of wealthy Boulder architect and commercial property owner J Nold Midyette. The baby's mother, Molly Midyette, is serving 16 years in prison for not getting medical help in time to save her son. The case was moved to Denver District Court because Boulder District Judge Lael Montgomery concluded that media coverage of the case made it impossible to find an impartial jury for Alex Midyette's trial.

“Jason Midyette lived 76 days filled with pain and misery,” prosecutor Colette Cribari told the jury in opening statements. “On March 3, 2006, he died a broken baby.”

Defense attorney Paul McCormick countered that Jason suffered from a rare disease that caused his little body and brain to self-destruct.

“They say the worst thing that can happen to you is to lose a child but there is something worse,” he said. “That’s when you lose a child and someone says you killed him.”

Alex Midyette was a devoted father who did early morning feedings and changed poopy diapers, McCormick said. “The day Jason was born was the happiest day of his life,” McCormick said. “He has waited three long years for the truth to be told in this case.”

But Cribari contended that the abuse began soon after Jason’s birth and went unnoticed during a number of well-baby check-ups, although Jason was slow to gain weight. He had bleeding in his mouth consistent with having a bottle or pacifier jammed in to his mouth and friends noticed that Alex Midyette treated the baby roughly, she said. They also noticed that he didn’t use his left arm, which doctors later determined had been broken, Cribari said.

When Jason’s grandmother noticed that he was arching his back and holding his breath, the Midyettes told her the doctor said that wasn’t a problem. But, Cribari said, the doctor was never told about these and other troubling signs.

When Jason’s grandmother, Kay Midyette watched the baby Feb. 19, 2006, she thought it was odd that he slept the entire time and never awakened even during diaper change or when she tried to feed him, Cribari said.

Molly Midyette went to work Feb. 24, 2006, leaving Jason in his father’s care. He called her at noon saying that something was wrong with Jason. By the time the Midyettes took Jason to their pediatrician at 3:30 p.m. the baby was limp, not moving and had a bulging bump on the soft spot of his head, Cribari said.

“The nurse was alarmed at the way he looked,” Cribari said. “Jason’s skin was gray, his eyes half open and wouldn’t track. He was making moaning sounds.”

He was taken to Boulder Community Hospital where a nurse said he “was the sickest baby she had ever seen,” Cribari said.

Although doctors suspected meningitis, tests showed bleeding on both sides of his brain and numerous broken bones.

Alex Midyette became distraught and angry, saying, “I don’t know why they think we injured him. He has no bruises,” Cribari said. Although he pulled his hair and pounded a wall, he never tried to console his dying son, she said.

Jason was moved to Children’s Hospital where he died March 3, 2006.

McCormick disputed the prosecution’s characterization of Midyette’s conduct at the hospitals. “There was a six-day vigil for Jason at Children’s Hospital before he died,” he said.

He said Jason’s rare disorder is characterized by a lack of outward symptoms until it’s too late.

Small areas deep inside his brain bled and the tissue died, he said. “He had many broken bones in all stages of healing and yet had no obvious signs, and no injury to internal organs, ” McCormick said.

By the time he was taken to the hospital, he had so much brain damage that it wouldn’t have mattered how soon they got him there, McCormick said. “There was no ‘golden hour’ to save him. The damage was already too far gone. There was no miracle cure.”

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