Schenectady County

Jury: Babysitter guilty of assault

A Schenectady woman was found guilty Wednesday of smashing the skull of the 2-year-old she babysat a
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A Schenectady woman was found guilty Wednesday of smashing the skull of the 2-year-old she babysat a year ago, leaving the child severely brain damaged.

Rebecca Polomaine, of 475 Alexander St., was found guilty of all three felony charges against her — first-degree assault and reckless assault of a child, both violent felonies, and reckless assault of a child by a day-care provider.

Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino is scheduled to sentence Polomaine on June 19. She faces between five and 25 years in prison.

Jurors reached a verdict around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, the second full day of their deliberations. Following the verdict, announced in a packed court room, Polomaine was sent to Schenectady County Jail, her $75,000 bond revoked.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said “there was no joy in the verdict, just a sense of justice.”

The injury left Riley Gilbert unable to care for herself for the remainder of her life, according to court testimony.

The verdict came at the end of a three-week trial that featured testimony from medical experts brought in and paid for by the defense and the prosecution. The dueling experts described how the child, Riley Gilbert, could have fractured her skull so severely it caused her brain to swell and sent her into convulsions.

One of the defense’s contentions was that Polomaine’s 4-year-old daughter slammed full force into Riley, sending her crashing onto or into a hard surface with her head.

The prosecution said the force required to cause Riley’s injury was akin to dropping her out of a second- or third-story window onto concrete.

During deliberations, jurors asked for two read-backs of testimony from medical experts.

Doctors had to remove some of Riley’s skull to relieve the pressure on her brain and save her life. They also removed dead brain matter, destroyed by the swelling. The operation took place at Albany Medical Center, where she was airlifted almost immediately after paramedics received a 911 call to Polomaine’s residence on the afternoon of March 27, 2007.

The incident also destroyed the long-time friendship between the Gilberts and the Polomaines. Rebecca had watched Riley since she was a toddler, court testimony indicated.

On Wednesday, at least 14 court officers were in the courtroom to prevent any contact between the two families and their friends. Giardino called the trial “extremely emotional for all involved.”

Prior to the reading of the verdict, Polomaine’s husband, Nicholas, rocked back and forth in his seat and buried his face in his hands. He refused to stand immediately when jurors entered the court room and when he did, he clutched his arms around himself, his face red. As the jury foreman said guilty to each of the three charges against his wife, he let out a moan and he cried audibly.

The Gilberts also started to cry when they heard the verdicts.

Defense attorney Joseph Litz cradled Rebecca Polomaine with his left arm as each verdict rang out. When a sheriff deputy put handcuffs on her — she had been free on bond during her trial — she looked squarely into the deputy’s face with a shocked expression and cried, shaking her head back and forth.

Litz sought a mistrial based on a previous read-back of expert testimony which he said did not provide jurors all the information they wanted. Giardino denied the motion because the jury had by then reached a verdict.

The Polomaines have four children. Trial testimony indicated that one child had two prior fractures.

Nicholas and Rebecca Polomaine were charged last year with five counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and two counts of fourth-degree welfare fraud, felonies.

They are accused of receiving more than $4,000 in food stamp assistance they weren’t entitled to over 14 months from 2005 to 2007, according to papers filed in court.

They allegedly failed to report income from Nicholas Polomaine’s pool job and Rebecca Polomaine’s daycare work, according to papers.

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