WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A 60-year-old Winston-Salem man was convicted this morning on allegations that he physically assaulted a 3-month-old boy, causing bleeding on his brain and breaking his legs.
A Forsyth County jury took about 90 minutes to find Chalmers Gray Bohannon of the 2000 block of Craig Street guilty of intentional child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and two counts of intentional child abuse inflicting serious physical injury.
Judge Edwin Wilson of Forsyth Superior Court sentenced Bohannon to 17 years and 11 months to 24 years and 7 months in prison.
According to testimony, the child’s 23-year-old mother had gone to Walgreens the night of Sept. 7, 2012. She left her son in Bohannon’s care. When she returned, her son was not in the crib where she had left him but was propped up in her bed with pillows.
Bohannon had been outside on the porch with his dog, according to testimony. When she asked Bohannon what happened, he told her he didn’t know.
The boy’s face was red. She checked on him the next day before she went to work and when she got back, the reddening appeared worse, according to testimony. The boy was then taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Bohannon couldn’t explain the boy’s injuries to doctors and told police that the boy had fallen off a couch.
During the trial, Dr. David Cline, Dr. Lauren Golding and Dr. Meggan Goodpasture testified that the injuries the boy suffered were significant and didn’t appear to be accidental. Goodpasture said that the injuries appeared consistent with child abuse.
Andrew Keever, an assistant public defender representing Bohannon, said in closing arguments that prosecutors had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that Bohannon had physically abused the boy, pointing to inconsistent statements that the mother made to doctors and in her testimony.
Keever also said that the bruising could have been caused by an allergic reaction and that prosecutors could not definitively prove when his injuries had occurred. He also said that one of the fractures may have happened after the boy had been taken to the hospital and was out of Bohannon’s care.
Assistant District Attorney Kia Chavious said in closing arguments that Bohannon had lied to doctors and to police about what had happened to the boy and had shown no emotion when he was shown pictures of the boy’s injuries during an interview with police.
“This is not an accident,” she said. “This is not an allergic reaction. … This is abuse, plain and simple.”
Before he was sentenced this morning, Bohannon denied that he abused the boy. Wilson pointed out that Bohannon had a long criminal history, including convictions for assault on a female, escape from prison, and robbery and larceny charges.
“Even during the trial, you didn’t show any emotion to the pictures of these injuries …,” he said. “It’s pretty clear what happened. … I’m going to give you every day allowed by law. You’ve earned it.”