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Layton man to stand trial in shaken-baby death

Published April 8, 2014 7:19 am

Courts • Tyler Geary is charged with first-degree felony child abuse homicide.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bountiful • A Layton man accused of fatally injuring his girlfriend's baby was ordered to stand trial Monday.

Tyler Ryan Geary, 25, is charged in 2nd District Court with child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony, for allegedly shaking 11-month-old Aliyah Wild on Sept. 10.

During Geary's preliminary hearing on Monday, Layton City police Detective Eric Smith testified that police became involved with the case after the child was brought to a local hospital with a brain injury, and was then taken by medical helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center. Medical officials had alerted local law enforcement because the circumstances surrounding Aliyah's injuries were "suspicious," according to Smith.

As part of their investigation, Smith said detectives interviewed Geary, who had been watching the child before her injury occurred.

Geary changed his story several times during the police interview, Smith testified, initially telling detectives that Aliyah had stood up on the couch, jumped, and fallen off the couch onto her car seat and then the floor.

But Smith said that story didn't match the injuries on the infant, so detectives continued to press Geary, who then told police that he was playing a game with the child and was bouncing her on the bed until she suddenly lost consciousness. Geary then told the officers that he began to shake the child to wake her up, Smith testified.

Smith said detectives didn't believe that story was entirely accurate either, and continued to question the man until he admitted he had caused the injuries.

"[Geary] stated that he had a headache and that she was crying," Smith testified. "He got frustrated and shook Aliyah for approximately 30 or 40 seconds."

After allegedly shaking the baby, Geary admitted that he dropped her on the bed, Smith testified. Geary told police that the child lost consciousness after she was dropped, according to a police interview played in court Monday.

After the injury, Geary called his girlfriend and took the child to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe intracranial bleeding that caused swelling on her brain, according to court documents. Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove part of her skull to reduce pressure on her brain, but her condition deteriorated. She was taken off life support and died Sept. 17.

An autopsy revealed brain injuries consistent with the trauma of being shaken and dropped as Geary described, according to police.

During Smith's cross-examination, defense attorney G. Fred Metos questioned whether the police tactics used in the interview — including a "false friend" technique where the detectives told Geary they were trying to help him and didn't believe he was a bad person — could have elicited a false confession from his client.

Ultimately, 2nd District Judge Thomas Kay found that there was probable cause that Geary committed the crime and ordered him to stand trial on the charge.

An arraignment has been set for April 17.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller