June 12, 2010 in the Missoulian

Two years ago, Robert J. Wilkes of Missoula was a single father who had just won custody of his 3-month-old son, Gabriel.

Today he stands convicted, despite his denials, of knowingly killing his own child.

“The extent of the damage and the custody of the child – there was no other possibility,” juror Allan Oines said after the trial.

Wilkes cried at trial when authorities played a 9-1-1 recording of the desperate call to report Gabriel’s grievous injuries. An earlier Missoulian report quoted his insistent denials.

“It makes me angry that my son is dead,” he testified. “It makes me angry that I’m the one accused of his death. I don’t know who did it. But I had no reason to get mad at my son. He was 3 months old.”

Multiple doctors pointed to bleeding in the brain and eyes visible by medical imaging. Their diagnosis: abusive head trauma, more commonly known as shaken baby syndrome. This conclusion and his own testimony led authorities to charge Wilkes – and not another suspect – as the child’s killer.

Wilkes’ story of what happened Oct. 4, 2008, never changed.

Read the full story here.

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