MASON CITY | After 45 minutes of deliberations Monday, a Cerro Gordo County jury found a Mason City man guilty of causing serious injury to his then five-month-old daughter.
Jeremy Rose, 28, looked down and rubbed his eyes right after the verdict was read. Family members of Alyss Michel, the baby's now 26-year-old mother and Jeremy's girlfriend at the time of the incident, sighed in relief and embraced each other.
State law indicates Rose could spend up to 10 years in prison for the felony charge, child endangerment resulting in serious injury.
His sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 4 at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse, and he will be held at the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Complex without bond until then.
Prosecutors in the case were Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorneys Andrew Olson and Steven Tynan. Rose's defense was led by public defenders Letitia Turner and Parker Thirnbeck.
"It's a bittersweet victory," Olson said following the verdict. "I'm thankful for all the work law enforcement and the DCI (Division of Criminal Investigation) and Mason City Police Department put into this. But it's bittersweet because of what happened to (the baby) but I'm happy that this is a step the family can take to move forward."
Turner and Thirnbeck declined comment after the verdict.
Jeff Michel, Alyss Michel's father, wasn't surprised that jurors, seven men and seven women, found Rose guilty.
"We believe justice has been served," said Michel, 49. "We had no doubt from the very beginning that he perpetrated this and caused the injuries to (my granddaughter). For our family, it's been a long road. (She) is forever gonna have issues, and we will give her all our love and support we can."
Olson began his closing argument Monday detailing the timeline from when the baby was born to when she was hospitalized on June 22, 2017.
Olson said Rose should be held responsible for the injuries his five-month-old girl daughter, especially as he allegedly neglected to care for her while she struggled to breathe.
“He never calls 911,” Olson told jurors. “He has a child who has trouble breathing for over 20 minutes now … The first call should have been to 911; he didn’t want to get in trouble.”
The call refers to the fact Rose first called his mother, Roxanne Rose, when he realized something was wrong with his daughter.
Turner, one of Rose's public defenders, said in her closing statement that she did not disagree that the baby sustained serious injuries.
He argued, however, that Olson and Tynan had not proved Rose had caused the injuries.
“I cannot tell you how (the baby) might have been hurt,” Turner said. “His only conclusion was that she was abused, but how?”
Olson pointed to pictures of bruising and testimony from Dr. Donald Derauf, who testified that the injuries the infant sustained were signs of child abuse.
He also reviewed several of the jury instructions, which outlined four possible theories the jury could use to find Rose guilty of child endangerment. He also argued the injuries to the infant’s brain were signficant enough to indicate abuse.
“You have very serious injuries with (the infant),” Olson said. “When you shake a baby, when you hit a baby, you’re creating significant risk … she lost part of her brain, how do you have more mental harm than that?”
Turner, however, said Rose was a caring father — and like the rest of the his infant daughter's family, was “struggling to understand what happened.”
“None of that evidence is sufficient to convince you who was responsible, let alone Jeremy was responsible,” Turner said about the state’s case.
She told jurors that if any doubt enters their mind while deliberating, they must find Rose not guilty — concluding her argument with a John Adams quote describing why he defended British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre.
“It is more important that innocence be protected than guilt be punished,” she said.
Jeff Michel, however, was glad a guilty verdict had been reached, and offered advice for families facing similar cases.
"Stay strong, believe in the system," he said. "Give as much support as you can to each other and just be there for each other. It's a long road from the time it happened to today, but we've remained steadfast in our belief that justice would be served."
The trial began last Tuesday. Closing arguments were presented Monday.