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Trial of father accused of abusing infant begins

A jury began hearing evidence Tuesday in the case of a Spokane man charged with assaulting his infant daughter, who was found in early 2012 to have multiple broken bones after her mother took her to a doctor to treat a fever.

The defense attorney for Tyson J. Romaneschi, 26, acknowledged that his client told police he lacked parenting skills, but he also said the baby suffered from rickets, a vitamin D deficiency that can cause bones to fracture easily and makes it difficult to determine when an injury occurred.

“It’s the answer as to why no one ever saw him abuse his daughter,” Donald Richter told the jury. “As you listen to the testimony, I ask you to keep an open mind.”

Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Eugene Cruz said Romaneschi told investigators he discovered a way to make his infant daughter sleep: by squeezing her. Cruz said Romaneschi later violated two protection orders and asked the baby’s mother to change her testimony at the trial.

The case began in February 2012 when the girl’s mother, Shayna Tipton, took Ellyana to a doctor because of a fever. The baby had a urinary tract infection and was given an X-ray, which revealed her broken ribs.

Doctors ordered more X-rays that revealed up to 20 broken bones in various stages of healing in the baby’s ribs, arm and leg, Cruz said.

Tipton, who had been living with Romaneschi, said she told investigators she had no idea how her daughter sustained the injuries. But she told police and testified Tuesday she remembers her daughter crying every time Romaneschi tried to hold her.

Romaneschi told police essentially the same thing during an interview with Detectives Neil Gallion and Jan Pogachar. Romaneschi said he didn’t intentionally hurt his child but said he has frustration problems. Detectives noted that Romaneschi grew angry during the interview “and that we had to calm him down several times,” according to court records.

Tipton took out a restraining order against Romaneschi, but said she began seeing him romantically after that and allowed him to see the girl, who also had a protection order prohibiting him from being near her.

“I was moving to Florida. I felt bad for them,” Tipton said of Romaneschi’s family. “I wanted to let them see Elly before I moved.”

During those visits, Romaneschi asked Tipton to change her testimony or make her unavailable to testify at his trial, which is expected to last up two weeks before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

“He would cry. He would beg for me to tell them (he) didn’t do it,” Tipton said. “He said we would be a family again. I felt guilty about testifying against Tyson, the father of my child.”