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Provo father to stand trial in battered baby's death

PROVO — One-month-old Jason Nielsen was "a badly battered infant who had been subjected to multiple episodes of blunt force trauma" when he was brought to Primary Children's Medical Center on May 11, 2008.

"He had head trauma, he had broken bones and he had a laceration of his liver," Lori Frasier testified Friday in 4th District Court.

Jason Nielson died on Oct. 17, 2008, in foster care, five months after he was admitted to the hospital for those injuries.

Frasier, director of medical assessment at the hospital's Center for Safe and Healthy Families, was the final witness in a preliminary hearing that started two weeks ago. Following her testimony, Jason's father, Cameron Nielsen, 23, of Provo, was ordered to stand trial on a charge of aggravated murder, a first degree felony. He is scheduled to be arraigned March 4.

Judge David Mortenson ruled that testimony from the hearing satisfied two requirements for the first-degree felony charge — that the injuries were inflicted with reckless indifference to human life and with the knowledge that they would likely result in his death.

Frasier was on the stand for almost three hours Friday detailing Jason's injuries when he was examined on May 12, 2008, at the hospital. She said the infant had three distinct, large skull fractures, one on the front of the head and one on each side, and suffered bleeding in the brain, brain damage and blindness as a result of the injuries.

The baby boy also had numerous broken ribs, both in the front and the back. Frasier said the injuries, specifically those to the back of the ribs, would not have been caused by CPR, as Cameron Nielson claimed when the baby was brought into the hospital,

"Fractures of that type require significant force," Frasier said. "To injure that part of the rib, that rib must be bent over the backbone. Someone has to be doing this."

Jason also had a fractured left tibia, an injury that is common in babies that have been shaken.

"Whiplash forces can cause those. It's a very specific fracture for child abuse," Frasier said.

Prosecutor Donna Kelly said the extensive nature of the baby's injuries justified trying Nielsen for aggravated murder.

"The constellation of the injuries is overwhelming," she said. "The child had nothing but serious physical injuries. I think this just screams out reckless indifference."

The baby spent a month in the hospital and then was placed in foster care, where he remained until his death.

In the Jan. 29 hearing, a medical examiner testified that Jason's death was caused by seizures he had experience for months and which were a result of brain injuries he had suffered earlier.

e-mail: mhaddock@desnews.com