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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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April 8, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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April 8, 2015
 

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, April 8, 2015 5A GUILTY: Defense argues toddler's mother caused injuries from page 1A Stringfellow initially told investigators he didn't bite the toddler, but later admitted he did including biting his bare buttocks. District Attorney David Hollister called the case his "hardest in a long time." "Not because of the facts, but because it was so emotionally charged," he said. "Our hearts go out to Braylon's family. I feel bad for both of the families." Families and friends of both the victim and defendant regularly attended the long trial. They remained composed despite witnessing testimony and images that were sometimes graphic in nature. The trial, which began March 12, was well into its fourth week before the jury began deliberations. The jurors heard testimony from more than a dozen prosecution witnesses and four defense witnesses -- including medical specialists on both sides. The jury ultimately found that Stringfellow inflicted the fatal injuries. They disagreed with defense attorney C. raig Leri's argument that the toddler's mother, Sullivan, should have been on trial. Leri accused detectives of focusing on Stringfellow from the beginning. "Demi wasn't interrogated. She was given a free pass," Leri told the jury during his closing argument. Sullivan was arrested five days after Stringfellow and charged with child endangerment. Detectives initially accused Sullivan of trying to protect Stringfellow. She was convicted of a misdemeanor violation of obstructing a criminal investigation. The district attorney said the evidence became clear that Sullivan did not know Whafhappened to her son while she was gone on a day trip to Reno. Leri argued it was Sullivan who caused the injuries during a 10- to 15-minute window when Stringfellow left the apartment after Sullivan returned from Reno about 11 p.m. However, witnesses portrayed Sullivan as a naive and simple-minded 20-year-old who didn't use corporal punishment on her son. During taped phone calls from jail that were submitted as evidence, Stringfellow told LIJBE, OIL FILTER To Subscribe 283-0800 257-5321 258-3115 832-4646 families (of t had to be done. "I think the hardest part was the isolation," the exposed to horrible information Stringfellow told a friend during a jailhouse phone conversation that the toddler bit him shortly after Sullivan left the apartment. "Basically the first thing this kid did was (expletive) jumped on me in bed and bit me. So, I (expletive) bit his ass back." Stringfellow told the friend. StringfeUow told his mother during another phone conversation, "I (expletive) spanked the (expletive) out of him." The district attorney told jurors that incident "was the beginning of the end" for the toddler. "His last day on earth was hell for him. This was a vicious and prolonged attack," Hollister said in his closing argument. "He can't fight back. He just had to people Sullivan never aggressively disciplined her son. "She only spanked him once and then she cried about it," he said during a Dec. 31, 2013, jailhouse conversation with his mother. Evidence presented during the trial indicated Stringfellow disagreed with Sullivan's passive discipline. The day Duguay was fatally injured was reportedly the first time Stringellow watched the toddler alone. Stringfellow and Sullivan had been dating for two months. She and her son moved into Stringfellow's apartment a month earlier. About 2 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2013, Sullivan went to Reno, leaving Stringfellow to watch her son. Richard I Stockton, CLU ChFC, Agent Insurance Lic. #0B68653 Providing Insurance & Rnancial Services 65 W. 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Expert witness Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose discoveries about the effects of chronic brain injuries led the National Football League to institute a strict concussion protocol, said Duguay's vomiting was caused by a "severe, acute traumatic brain injury." The acclaimed neurologist assisted Clark in the autopsy. After Sullivan returned to the apartment about 11 p.m., her son's condition became worse. Sullivan called 911 at 1:21 a.m. when Stringfellow told her the boy didn't have a heartbeat. Stringfellow performed CPR before deputies arrived and took over the resuscitation effort. Duguay was taken to Plumas District Hospital and later to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where he died. Stringfellow was arrested the evening of Dec. 12, 2013, after being interviewed by detectives. He was charged with murder when the toddler was pronounced dead the following day. The second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. 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