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Uintah County man acquitted in infant son’s death

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VERNAL — A Uintah County man charged with child abuse homicide in his infant son's death was acquitted by a jury Thursday night.

Chad Lewis Rogers, 28, was charged more than six months after his infant son, Dominic Kazz Rogers, died suddenly from bleeding in his brain that doctors said showed he had been violently shaken.

Rogers' attorney, Bryan Sidwell, told jurors during a two-week trial that he believed Dominic's death had been wrongly classified as abuse, noting that the medical determination came from a doctor at Primary Children's Hospital who has oft published her opinion that "shaken baby" cases are not diagnosed often enough.

"This case was mainly circumstantial," Sidwell said. "Basically the reason my client was accused was he was the last person to have contact with the child."

Other doctors at the trial testified that they believe Dominic's injuries would have happened several hours before his death, possibly in a fall earlier that day, while the Primary Children's doctor testified death would have been immediate, Sidwell said.

"When we moved the timetable as to when this child was probably injured, it created other suspects and it also created doubts that it might have been an accident," Sidwell said.

Additionally, the director of the University of Utah's head injury lab testified that Dominic's injuries could have come either from a fall or from an intentional act, Sidwell said.

Rogers had been alone with the 6-month-old boy, who had been asleep in his crib, when he told police the boy began choking. Rogers and his now ex-wife, Brittany Rogers, told detectives at the hospital they had called 911 and started CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

"Brittany said while Chad was holding (the boy, he) went limp in Chad's arms, unresponsive and turned blue," a police report indicated.

Chad Rogers told police he had been holding his son as he would to burp him and shook him to try to get him to breathe.

A medical examiner reported Dominic had suffered a brain stem injury, as well as bleeding in his brain and damage to the vessels in his eyes, injuries that were consistent with someone who had been "forcefully shaken in a manner causing internal brain and/or spinal cord injuries."

Now exonerated, Sidwell said Rogers hopes to rebuild his life. While the case has been pending, employers have been unwilling to hire him and his wife divorced him in order to keep custody of their two older children, according to the attorney.

And no verdict can bring back Rogers' son.

"He thinks he's got a new start on life," Sidwell said.