Doctor to study baby's autopsy report

Brandon Lee Bottom

MICHIGAN CITY – A Coolspring Township man accused of beating or shaking his newborn son to death in February has received permission to use public funds to secure an expert witness to analyze the evidence in his case.

The judge on Thursday also postponed Brandon Lee Bottom’s July 15 jury trial until Oct. 7.

Because Bottom was deemed indigent and had been appointed a public defender, Judge Michael Bergerson agreed he does not have the funds to secure a private doctor to explain the medical records and autopsy findings to him and his attorney, David Jones.

Bergerson issued an order granting permission for Jones to relay information regarding any expert witnesses’ identities, credentials and cost to him in his chambers ex parte, or without prosecutors’ knowledge.

However, those meetings will be video recorded and made part of a sealed record. Any court staffer charged with transcribing or otherwise handling that record is prohibited from divulging its contents, and would be held in contempt of the court should he or she violate that order.

Information exchanged in the ex parte meetings will only be shared with the prosecution if the defense intends to call the expert as a witness during trial.

Bottom will return to La Porte Superior Court 1 on Sept. 5 for his final pretrial conference, at which time he will have three options: to change his plea to “guilty,” to confirm he is prepared to face a jury on Oct. 7, or to request another continuance.

Until then, he remains in lockup at the La Porte County Jail on a cash-only bond of $100,000 on charges of aggravated battery, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, and battery resulting in death – felony levels 1, 1 and 2, respectively.

If convicted, he faces up to 110 years in prison.

Corey James Bottom was just 57 days old when he was pronounced dead on Feb. 5 at University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children’s Hospital.

Four days earlier, his mother rushed him to Franciscan Health Michigan City after coming home from work to find him “very pale with shallow breathing and unable to open his eyes,” according to court documents.

Medical professionals at Franciscan told the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department that Corey had suffered injuries “consistent with the shaking of a baby,” including a brain bleed; swelling of the brain; a dilated, unresponsive left pupil; and bruising along his right side.

An autopsy determined the infant had also suffered a broken rib, and noted he had multiple other ribs in various stages of healing from previous fractures.

The official cause of death was listed as “closed head injuries due to blunt force trauma,” according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Bottom was charged and arrested after his 6-year-old daughter and her 10-year-old uncle said in separate forensic interviews that they'd witnessed Bottom being abusive toward the baby.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the 10-year-old told staff at Dunebrook that he'd witnessed Bottom shaking Corey the morning of Feb. 1, the same day the baby was admitted to the hospital.

The 6-year-old reportedly told interviewers “that she observed instances of her father, Brandon Bottom, being ‘too hard’ on the baby. She also described that Brandon Bottom treats the baby differently when (her mother) was home. She described how her father didn’t do anything but play games on his Playstation while the baby cries,” the affidavit states.

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