WARREN - The evidence against a Southington man accused of breaking a 9-month-old boy's leg was not credible, according to defense attorneys for Ryan P. Elza, 23.
Prosecutors contended Thursday in Trumbull Common Pleas Court, however, that it didn't matter whether or not the child's injuries were done purposefully. The boy suffered a spiral fracture in his left leg.
An eight-woman, four-man jury deliberated about four hours after attorneys made their closing arguments in Elza's trial. Elza, of 3247 state Route 305, pleaded not guilty to one count of child endangering. He faces up to eight years in prison.
Jurors are scheduled to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today.
The indictment charges that on Dec. 21, 2009, Elza "recklessly abused the child."
Attorney Jeff Goodwin, representing Elza, told the jury during his closing arguments that prosecutors failed to reach their burden of proof because a doctor was unable to identify the type of fracture the boy sustained.
"The evidence cannot fully be confirmed," Goodwin said.
Assistant Trumbull County prosecutor Diane Barber told the jury that it didn't matter if Elza tried to break the child's leg.
''This wasn't an accident, it was reckless,'' Barber said. ''It wasn't intentional, but he's not charged with intentionally harming the child. He reacted too hard and too fast for a 9-month-old.
Barber also pointed to taped interviews with investigators in which Elza changed his story of the events that happened surrounding the injury.
During Elza's initial interviews with Children Services investigators he said he was unsure how the baby's injury was sustained and said he thought his sister, who was the only other person with the baby that day, caused the injury.
Six months later, during an interview with forensic investigator trained in interviewing and hired by prosecutors, Elza said he heard and felt a pop in the boy's knee while he was changing his diaper that morning.
Elza said during that interview that he put the child on the couch to change a soiled diaper. He said he grabbed both of the babies' legs and reached for a towel to clean the baby, but his grip slipped, and the baby started to roll sideways.
Elza said he quickly reached to catch the baby. As he grabbed his leg, he said he heard and felt the baby's knee pop.
He told the forensic investigator, William D. Evans II, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Akron and the owner of Investigative Safety and Security Group, that he didn't tell anyone about the popping noise because he was scared he'd get in trouble.
"I told my sister (he was crying) because I woke him up," he said. "I thought I had just cracked his knuckle or something. I didn't tell my sister anything happened because I was scared people would look at it as child abuse."