The last time Fautima Iftin could eat or cry or laugh, she was 10 weeks old.
Fautima will turn 2 next month. The little girl hasn’t moved or taken a breath on her own since September 2011.
Prosecutors blame her grandmother, Madina Osman, for shaking the newborn so vigorously that she fractured the infant’s ribs and caused bleeding in her brain.
On Thursday, 3rd District Judge Vernice Trease ordered Osman to stand trial on two counts of child abuse, second-degree felonies that could land Osman in prison for up to 15 years on each count.
Osman, 45, did not speak throughout the two-day preliminary hearing as law enforcement officers, a medical expert and Fautima’s parents testified at the proceeding.
Fautima’s parents brought her to Primary Children’s Medical Center on Sept. 22, 2011. She had spent the day at her grandmother’s Salt Lake City home while her mother and father were at work.
During the day, the mother noticed she had missed several calls from Osman. When Dumiya Shoble called the woman back, there was alarm in Osman’s voice: “Fautima is sick,” she said. “You have to come home.”
Fautima’s father, Abdull Ahi Kulo, was the first to arrive.
He watched in fear as his daughter stiffened and shook, and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. He thought she was having a seizure.
“The baby was very sick,” he testified through a translator. “I was so afraid she might die.”
Pediatrician Karen Hansen said four of the baby’s ribs were fractured, her brain was swelling and there was bleeding behind her eyes. Doctors found no bruising or marks on the baby’s skin, but Hansen said that doesn’t mean the baby wasn’t shaken or squeezed too tightly.
Fautima spent more than two weeks at Primary Children’s before she was transferred to South Davis Community Hospital. Eventually, the baby was released to the care of her mother. A scan of Fautima’s brain was done in December.
“She really doesn’t have much brain left,” the doctor said. “She eats and breathes, but she needs help to do that much.”
Ahi Kulo still doesn’t know how his baby was hurt, but he doesn’t believe Osman is an abuser, he said through a translator.
“If one of the other children had hurt her, maybe I would know, but maybe not,” Ahi Kulo said. “I don’t think Madina hurt Fautima.”
The judge also ordered Thursday that Osman not be allowed to care for children until her case is resolved.
Fautima is one of five children — she has three sisters, ages 12, 6 and 4 months, and a 10-year-old brother. The mother held her youngest daughter close to her chest throughout the court proceedings.
Osman was previously referred to as Fautima’s great-aunt in court documents but was identified at the preliminary hearing as the baby’s grandmother. She will be arraigned next month.