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March 24, 2014

Defendant in child assault held for trial

JOHNSTOWN — A Johnstown man accused of causing massive injuries to the head and body of his 18-month old daughter was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing before District Judge Leonard Grecek of Roxbury on Monday.

Maurice A. Davis Jr., 26, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangering the welfare of children.

Police said Davis was caring for the girl on Jan. 24, when she was found lying unconscious at the bottom of stairs at his Oak Street home.

The child’s injuries were so severe that she may never walk again, said Dr. Rachel Berger of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

“She may never see, never walk, never talk because of these injuries,” Berger testified via speakerphone.

Berger said the case was “unequivocally” child abuse.

Davis sat expressionless as he listened to the testimony.

Davis told police the girl fell down the steps of a third-floor attic when he turned his back for a moment to put a movie on television, Johnstown police Detective Julie Wagner said.

Davis, who had visitation rights, had been caring for the child for several days. He called for an ambulance when the girl cried and then went limp, according to the criminal complaint filed by city police.

The girl was airlifted from Memorial Medical Center in Johns­town to Pittsburgh, where she remains. Her injuries include damage to the brain, a broken collarbone, and multiple bruises and abrasions.

Davis did not testify at the hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Tamara Bernstein said the claim that the child fell down stairs was inconsistent with medical evidence.

“There is no way this constellation of injuries could have occurred but at the hands of another individual,” Bernstein said after the hearing.

Davis’s attorney, Daniel J. Kiss of Altoona, said there was no malice or intent to injure the child.

“The evidence will show these are terrible, tragic injuries, but Mr. Davis had no intention of hurting the child,” Kiss said after the hearing. “There’s a lot of evidence that needs to be looked at. We’re nowhere near knowing everything that happened in this case.”

Davis was returned to the Cambria County Prison, where he is being held on $200,000 percentage bond.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on­nowskiTD.


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