A Marine accused of severely beating his 3-month-old son will stand trial on felony child abuse charges. Prosecutors say Corporal James Charles dropped and shook his son Owen more than 30 times during the first few months of his life.
The child is blind in one eye and suffers from developmental problems, prosecutors also said. The alleged crimes happened late last year at the Marine's Poway home where he lived with his wife, son and mother in law.
During a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, the victim's aunt testified that she had begun noticing injuries on the child soon after he was born.
"He was a month old, and he had bruising under his eyes and under his arm pits," Nicole Barber said.
Defense attorney Vikas Bajaj told the judge that the injuries may have been accidental. He said Charles repeatedly grabbed Owen in early October, when the child was only a few weeks old, to stop him from rolling off a bed.
The judge didn't buy the explanation and bound the case over for trial.
Bajaj says his client had just come home from a tour in Iraq, and has been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
"It will be part of the defense plan," Bajaj said.
San Diego psychiatrist Clark Smith says PTSD can often lead to anger and violence but it's unclear if it will help Corporal Charles in trial.
"Sometimes the jury says that's not an excuse and we don't want to hear about it," Dr. Clark said. "Sometimes the jury says now we understand how this unthinkable thing happened."
Corporal Charles will be back in court on June 17 when a judge picks a trial date. If convicted, he could get up to 22 years in prison.