LIMA — The murder trial of Gabriel Salyers will enter its second week Monday.
And it will do so with the absolute minimum number of jurors possible.
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed excused two jurors near the end of testimony on Friday when it became undeniable that the trial would continue into next week. Two of those individuals seated on the jury — one man and one woman — had made it known during the selection process that travel plans would preclude them for participating in the trial should it last beyond the end of this week. The two alternate jurors moved up to take their seats on the panel. The loss of one more juror could lead to a mistrial.
“I learn a lesson every day, and I have egg on my face,” Reed told remaining jurors. “I under-estimated the length of this trial and I apologize.”
Prosecutors wrapped up their portion of the trial against Salyer, 32, by mid-afternoon Friday. The Lima man is charged in the April 2018 death of 18-month-old Jaxxon Sullivan, who was rushed from a home on Oak Street in Lima on Easter Sunday last year after being found limp and seemingly lifeless by first responders.
Shelly Wireman, the infant’s mother and Salyer’s live-in girlfriend at the time, has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Wireman and Salyers were the only two adults in the home at the time a 911 emergency call was made by Wireman after the young boy was found unresponsive in the bedroom of the couple’s home on April 1, 2018. Sullivan was flown later that night to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Toledo and died there two days later after he was removed from life support.
Dr. Randall Schlievert, director of the child abuse program at Mercy Health-Toledo, told jurors Thursday that abusive head trauma and fatal shaking were the factors that led to the child’s death. “And this all happened immediately before the child became unresponsive. The injuries that led to the symptoms here were immediate,” the doctor testified.
Similar testimony was presented Friday by Lucas County Coroner Diane Scala Barnett, who performed the autopsy on Sullivan. Barnett said the injuries that led to Jaxxon Sullivan’s death were the result of the infant’s head “either hitting something hard or something hitting his head hard. I can’t tell you the specific tool used, but is was a hard surface such as a wall or a floor.”
Asked by Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick what type of force would be required to generate the type of injuries Jaxxon Sullivan sustained, the coroner replied, “It’s like throwing the child out of a fourth-story window; that’s the kind of force we’re talking about. And the effects would be immediate.”
The coroner also addressed bruising found around the infant’s penis, telling jurors that an injury of that type was caused either by someone pinching or sucking the organ.
Salyers had admitted to police that he struck the infant and “flicked” Sullivan’s penis on Easter Sunday. But Barnett said the injuries to the boy’s penis were the result of an “applied force, and that’s not ‘flicking.’”
Salyers had earlier denied any knowledge of how the injuries to Sullivan were sustained, but changed his story twice before saying he had struck the child.
Testimony for the defense will resume Monday morning.