ONLINE EXCLUSIVE - Resor trial starts Monday

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:16 PM

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler has subpoenaed 44 witnesses in the case against shaken baby suspect Jeffrey D. Resor. Eight of those people are Norwalk police officers and one is the victim’s mother.

The trial on charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment begins with jury selection Monday morning in Huron County Common Pleas Court. It is expected to last two weeks.

Resor, 27, formerly of 33-E Bouscay Ave., is accused of shaking 10-month-old Donavan Lykins to death Feb. 24, 2007 while baby-sitting for his then-girlfriend, Gwen M. Herber. The boy died later that day at Akron Children’s Hospital. Resor has been in custody at the Huron County Jail on a $1 million bond since April 12, 2007.

Leffler declined to discuss the case Friday.

Previously Leffler said the defendant and Herber started dating in December 2006. They are no longer a couple.

“She said she had known of him for a number of years,” Leffler said.

The prosecutor also said abuse — specifically shaking the child — had been ongoing and accused Resor of shaking the boy the day before his death, causing brain bleeding.

Summit County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler ruled the boy’s death was a homicide, adding the infant possibly died of shaken baby syndrome (SBS). Authorities had called the situation suspicious and mysterious, ordered an autopsy, but hadn’t determined a suspected motive for Resor.

Defense attorney K. Ronald Bailey, after his client was indicted April 20, 2007, said SBS cases are “fairly rare” and wouldn’t describe Resor as violent.

Bailey did not return a call to be interviewed for this story.

About 9:45 a.m. Feb. 24, a children services investigator reported possible child abuse involving the boy, Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Todd Temple wrote in court records unsealed two months later. A man in a 9-1-1 call about 1:10 a.m. said “the child was choking on his vomit and they needed EMS,” Temple wrote.

It’s unknown if the caller was Resor.

The infant first went to Fisher-Titus Medical Center. A LifeFlight helicopter later flew him to the Akron hospital. The Akron medical staff reported the boy had hemorrhaging in his eyes, which was consistent with SBS-related injuries.

Temple, the investigating officer, has said the infant went to Fisher-Titus twice within the two weeks before he died.

In May 2007, retired Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Bowman was appointed to preside over the case. This avoided a conflict of interest for Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway, who was the Norwalk law director when Resor was arrested and initially charged.

About one week later, Bowman denied Bailey’s motion to prohibit the baby from being called a victim.

“It’s unnatural not to refer to the child as a victim,” Leffler said in court. “It’s nothing the jury can’t handle.”

In January, Bailey asked for the charges against Resor to be dismissed, which Bowman turned down.

Resor’s attorney accused Leffler of failing to “timely provide exculpatory medical records months after being ordered to do so.” Bailey said the delay “totally frustrated, hampered and stalled the defense of this case.”

Some of the records Bailey requested were from Dec. 31, 2006, when he said the infant went to the Fisher-Titus emergency room twice when he stopped breathing.

Mitchell Case, the boy’s maternal grandfather, expressed frustration in mid-April about how long the case was taking.

“Emotionally, she (Herber) is still going through withdrawal,” Case said. “The whole family misses the little guy.”

In mid-May, Bailey and Resor turned down an undisclosed plea deal offered by Leffler several months earlier. Bailey said his client “turned (it) down because he’s innocent and wants to go to trial.”

Bowman, on June 8, ruled the Summit County coroner and an Akron pediatric critical care specialist could testify for the state about their knowledge of the case and SBS. The judge also ruled a Maryland neurological surgeon could take the stand for the defense.

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