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Shaken Baby's Father Called Loving

Hearing: Simi Valley woman whose husband is accused in their infant's death offers alternative explanations.

July 12, 2001|TINA DIRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The wife of a Simi Valley man accused of shaking his 10-week-old son to death described her husband Wednesday as a loving father and testified that the boy's 2-year-old brother could have inflicted some of the injuries.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing to determine if Brian Trelatsky should stand trial in connection with the March 28, 2000, death of his infant son, Tyler.

The boy's mother, Catherine Trelatsky, testified that the couple's older son, Scottie, sometimes was jealous of the attention his new baby brother received and would sometimes tug at the infant.

"He would pull on him, on his arms and legs," said Trelatsky, who cited one incident when the older boy hit Tyler on top of his head and another when he jumped on the baby, landing on his shoulders and head.

Trelatsky described her infant son as a sickly baby, who weighed less than 5 pounds when he came home from the hospital and suffered from jaundice. He also seemed to have trouble breathing on occasion and would appear to "gasp for air," Trelatsky said. But a doctor told the couple that the baby was not seriously ill.

On the morning of March 27, 2000, Trelatsky said, the baby had no obvious injuries. Her husband called her at her office about midmorning and reported that the kids were fine. She heard from him again about 2:15 p.m. and he sounded upset, she said.

"He said, 'Something's wrong with Tyler,' " Trelatsky testified. "He said Tyler wasn't breathing right."

Paramedics found the baby lying on scattered magazines on a coffee table in the couple's mobile home, Deputy Dist. Atty. Dee Corona said in an opening statement.

The baby appeared to have stopped breathing, but paramedics discovered a faint heartbeat and rushed Tyler to Simi Valley Hospital and put him on life support. He died the next day.

Brian Trelatsky was arrested shortly after his son's death and charged with child abuse causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison.

Corona contended that Brian Trelatsky was to blame for the death of his son, noting that he was Tyler's sole caretaker when the boy stopped breathing.

Although Catherine Trelatsky's testimony Wednesday included references to her 2-year-old son, she also confirmed many of Corona's key points.

She said her husband and older son were the only people with the baby between 7 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., when paramedics were summoned.

She had recently gone back to work after time off for the birth of Tyler, and her husband had agreed to stay home to be the caretaker of the two boys, she testified.

On several occasions, Trelatsky said, she arrived home from work to find small bruises on Tyler. Brian Trelatsky usually explained that they were the result of accidents, usually falls inside the home.

But she also said her husband was a loving father who roamed around their neighborhood so much with his children that he became known as "the man who walks the baby."

Testimony continues today before Judge Edward Brodie.

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