Man found innocent of son's death


Sunday, June 8th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A Tulsa father has been acquitted in the death of his infant son, who prosecutors said was violently shaken.

The 8-month-old boy died five months after he was taken to the hospital because he was unresponsive.

Roger T. Stephenson was found innocent of first-degree murder Saturday by a jury that deliberated more than seven hours.

"Thank God," defense attorney David C. Phillips said after the one-week trial. "It was a hard case."

Stephenson, who was released after 16 months in the Tulsa Jail, said he did not shake, strike or slap baby Dre'Vion on March 20, 2001. The boy died Aug. 7, 2001, at a pediatric care facility in Oklahoma City.

Dr. Robert Block testified Dre'Vion was "neurologically devastated" and said only a violent shaking could explain the boy's brain injuries and retinal hemorrhaging. But Dr. Alvin Jaffee, a defense witness, said it was possible the baby had an oxygen problem at birth that caused later health problems.

Stephenson said he left a former schoolmate with his son while he carried out the trash. He says he returned to find the baby unresponsive and his friend, known as "Johnnie," gone.

Assistant District Attorney Dana Bogie said there was no visit from "this mysterious Johnnie person" and theorized that Stephenson "snapped" when a fussy baby wouldn't stop crying.

The baby's mother, Marshan Tolbert, said she did not believe Stephenson hurt Dre'Vion.