Prosecutors rest with assertion evidence will prove infant’s father guilty
GILLETTE, Wyo. — Prosecutors rested their case Thursday morning after a district court judge denied the defense’s motion to acquit a Gillette man of felony aggravated child abuse.
Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Greg Steward urged the court to deny the motion for acquittal entered by Defense Attorney Cassandra Craven for Tyler Bryan Martinson on May 5, saying the evidence gathered before and testimony presented during the trial was sufficient to prove him guilty of 10 counts of felony aggravated child abuse.
District Court Judge Stuart Healy III, for the Sixth Judicial District, sided with the prosecution, denying the motion, saying that a reasonable jury could be expected to convict Martinson based on the evidence provided up to May 5.
The motion came on the heels of testimony provided by Detective Eric Small, the lead investigator in the case, who took the stand Thursday to testify.
Small was the on-call detective when the call came into the Gillette Police Department (GPD) on Jan. 2, 2021 regarding a baby with multiple broken bones that doctors suspected was a victim of child abuse.
He called in GPD Detectives Jeremiah Wagner and Christine Winterholler to assist in the investigation, which ultimately revealed evidence supporting medical suspicions.
A total of 31 broken bones were ultimately identified in Martinson’s son, who was then 3 months old, that doctors said could only be caused by brute force trauma as well as squeezing or shaking him, per testimony and an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
Martinson was initially interviewed by Wagner, who testified May 3 that Martinson allegedly admitted during the interview that he had been angry, had a lot going on and just lost it.
In a video recording of the interview with Wagner, presented to the jury on day two of the trial, Martinson could be heard saying the baby wouldn’t stop crying the morning of Jan. 2 and his leg was swollen.
Martinson could also be heard in the video saying he wasn’t as gentle with the baby as he should have been and at times had gotten “western” with the baby, a term proposed in a question by Wagner and that Martinson adopted in his response.
Small conducted a follow-up interview with Martinson on Jan. 4, a video recording of which was provided to the jury on day four of the trial.
In the video, Martinson was cooperative with Small, stating that he had nothing to hide from the police and said he was aware that his son had sustained multiple bone fractures.
Martinson could be heard describing how he would hold the baby up to his shoulder and squeeze him to get the baby to burp. He also said he held the baby upside down by his calves for 10 seconds at least three times because he believed it was helping the baby’s curved spine. He also indicated he performed the bicycle maneuver on the baby to help alleviate gas.
“I don’t understand how I hurt him like that,” Martinson said in the video. “For me, it’s just hard to fathom.”
In the video, Martinson also said he was rough enough with the baby to make him cry and would sometimes swing him while holding him upside down.
Martinson also told Small in the interview recording that the baby’s leg injuries could have been caused by him holding onto his legs and described hanging on tightly because he didn’t want to drop him.
When his father, Michael Martinson, was allowed into the interview room, Martinson could be heard saying in the video, “I feel like a monster. I feel shitty.”
With the prosecution resting its case, the ball is now in the defense’s court, which will now present witnesses of their own in the coming days in defense of Martinson.