(Versailles, Ind.) - A Ripley County jury has found a former sheriff’s reserve deputy guilty of child abuse.
It took the jury deliberating seven hours on Thursday, August 30 to convict Zebulan “Zeb” Hildebrand guilty of Battery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Aggravated Battery, both Class B felonies.
The four day trial in Ripley Circuit Court saw Hildebrand try to explain that he accidentally dropped his two-month-old son in his Holton home in August of 2011. The child was taken to Margaret Mary Hospital in Batesville, but later taken by aircare to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where doctors discovered his bleeding brain, bleeding in the eyes, and a lacerated liver.
“He was incubated for six days there and remained hospitalized for 10 days,” said Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel.
Hildebrand's wife and brother, a current sheriff’s office detective, also testified in his defense.
Indiana State Police detectives, however, testified that Hildebrand admitted to shaking and jerking the baby.
“There are many losers in this case, not just the victim. The mother and siblings have endured much also,” Hertel said, adding he hopes the family can move forward.
The prosecutor also credited the state police detective who investigated the case and the work of the doctors at Children’s Hospital.
Hildebrand faces six to 20 years when he is sentenced on Wednesday, September 19 at 8:30 a.m. by special Judge Jon Cleary, of Dearborn Superior Court I. Cleary was appointed to preside over the trial after Ripley Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul recused himself because he personally knew many of the individuals involved.