Judge continues child abuse case | NevadaAppeal.com

Judge continues child abuse case

by Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service

A 27-year-old man told District Judge Dave Gamble that he acted carelessly when he fractured the skull of his 1-year-old stepdaughter, but denied the injury was intentional.

Stephen Tribon was set to plead Tuesday to attempted child abuse or neglect causing substantial harm in connection with the Jan. 31 incident in which he is accused of swinging the little girl against a crib bar.

The baby was 11 months old at the time.

Gamble continued the sentencing for two weeks after Tribon insisted the injury was accidental.

“After I got done changing the child, she was on the changing table,” Tribon said. “I swung her too fast and hit her head on the crib. I woke up my wife and said we have to go down to the hospital.”

“Are you saying this was an accident?” Gamble asked.

“I wasn’t intending to hit her head on the crib. Yes, it was by accident,” he said.

Prosecutor Karen Dustman said Tribon’s explanation did not satisfy the statute.

“You have to have intended this to be an attempt. I am not going to accept your plea if this was an accident. If when it comes to sentencing, I find out it wasn’t an accident – that you lied to me – it will affect the sentencing,” Gamble said.

“It was due to carelessness in how I handled her,” Tribon said.

“Do you know how difficult it is to fracture a child’s skull?” Gamble said.

Gamble set out the arraignment until March 29.

“The time when the guilty plea is entered is the time to get it all off your chest. I have to have the truth,” Gamble said. “I’m going to want to hear from you a full explanation of what happened to the child.”

Dustman said the suspect was offering a new argument.

“My understanding was that he was going to admit the intent part,” she said.

Tribon’s attorney, Kris Brown, said the “attempt” language in the charge was fictional. By pleading guilty to the charge, Tribon may avoid a 2-20 year sentence were he convicted of child abuse or neglect causing substantial bodily harm.

If Tribon pleads guilty, he is ineligible for probation unless a state-certified psychologist or psychiatrist determines he is at low risk to reoffend.

“The neglect part is what I’m pleading guilty to,” Tribon said. “I already said in interviews with the investigator that I was frustrated at the time.”

He was taken into custody after the baby, then 11 months old, was hospitalized with a skull fracture, bruises and evidence of a prior broken arm.

According to reports, Tribon and the baby’s mother brought her to the Carson Valley Medical Center at 4:45 a.m. Feb. 1. The examining physician called deputies because he was concerned that the mother had no explanation for the injuries and was inconsistent in explaining what happened.

According to court documents, Tribon admitted to an investigator that he caused the injury. Tribon reportedly told the officer he picked the baby up by the waist, swung her toward the crib, and slammed her head on top of the wooden frame.

He allegedly dropped her in the crib and slammed her right ear into the wooden frame, according to reports.

Tribon allegedly told the investigator he became frustrated “from being under a lot of stress.”

Tests indicated the baby had a fractured skull to the right side of her head plus multiple scrapes and bruises behind her right ear, the back of her neck, and a small bruise above her right eyebrow.