An appeals court reinstated a second-degree murder charge against the Glens Falls father accused of killing his 15-month-old child in February 2012.
Justices with the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court found there to be enough evidence to suggest Gary Lee Waite, 28, exhibited depraved indifference toward his son, Jesse Smith, in the hours after the toddler sustained a grave and ultimately fatal head injury. In reaching the decision to restore the second-degree murder charge, the court found there to be enough evidence that Waite did not seek immediate help after the boy suffered the injury.
“Stated another way, a defendant who inflicts severe injuries upon a child and then attempts to weave a story over several hours to save himself while the child suffers is hardly less callously indifferent to the child’s life than one who waits and eventually dispassionately reports the child’s condition,” Justice John Lahtinen wrote in the ruling released Thursday.
Waite, who already was facing lesser charges of second-degree manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child, initially told investigators he threw the boy onto a couch and the child bounced to the floor, hitting his head. But physicians tending to the boy later determined he had injuries consistent with hitting the windshield in a car accident at 60 mph with no seat belt, or falling from a 10-story building.
A grand jury indicted Waite on the second-degree murder charge. But in October 2012, a Warren County Court judge dismissed the charge, ruling Waite’s case did not meet the legal standard of depraved indifference to human life.