July trial for father in baby's death

Brandon Bottom

MICHIGAN CITY – A Coolspring Township man accused last week of killing his 8-week-old baby appeared for his initial court hearing Tuesday, and was scheduled to face a jury beginning July 15.

If convicted, 24-year-old Brandon Lee Bottom could face up to 110 years in prison on felony counts of aggravated battery, neglect of a dependent causing death, and battery – with all three charges alleging the crime resulted in the death of a child under 14.

Corey James Bottom was just 57 days old on Feb. 1, when his mother rushed him to Franciscan Health Michigan City in a condition court documents describe as “very pale with shallow breathing and unable to open his eyes.”

Hospital staff determined the baby had sustained a brain bleed; swelling of the brain; a dilated, unresponsive left pupil; and bruising along his right side – “injuries which are consistent with the shaking of a baby,” court records show.

Franciscan notified the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department of the suspected abuse and transferred Corey the same day to the University of Chicago Medicine – Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago, where he was declared dead on Feb. 5.

An autopsy conducted by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Chicago determined Corey’s death to have been a homicide, and noted the baby died of “closed head injuries due to blunt force trauma.”

Additionally, the autopsy showed Corey to have sustained a recently broken rib, as well as multiple previous rib fractures in various stages of healing, according to court records.

The probable cause document in the case refers to forensic interviews conducted with Corey’s 6-year-old sister and 10-year-old uncle, both of whom were at the Woodland Crossing apartment with the baby hours before he was taken to the hospital.

The 10-year-old told Dunebrook staff he witnessed Brandon Bottom “holding the baby with his hands around the baby’s midsection and shaking him back and forth. … He described that he saw the baby’s head shaking back and forth while the shaking took place.”

And the 6-year-old’s interview describes her father’s alleged behavior prior to Feb. 1.

“She stated that she observed instances of her father, Brandon Bottom, being ‘too hard’ on the baby,” the probable cause document says. “She also described that Brandon Bottom treats the baby differently when (her mother) was home. She described how her father didn’t do anything but play games on his Playstation while the baby cries.”

Sheriff’s deputies took Bottom into custody Friday. They are the investigating agency, as the alleged abuse occurred just outside Michigan City limits.

The baby's mother has not been charged in connection with the case. Court documents say she was at work when the fatal injuries occurred.

Bottom will return to La Porte Superior Court 1 for an April 4 omnibus hearing, the date by which the state must turn over evidence to the defense.

Meanwhile, he remains incarcerated at the La Porte County Jail on a cash-only bond of $100,000.

Judge Michael Bergerson ordered a bond investigation and risk assessment be conducted, and will review the results during a bail hearing on Feb. 26.

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