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Fort Bragg man testifies in death of infant foster daughter

A Fort Bragg man charged with killing his infant foster daughter took the stand during his trial Wednesday to deny he'd ever harmed the child.

“Did you beat that baby?” asked Public Defender Linda Thompson.

“No,” replied Wilson “Josh” Lee Tubbs III, 39. He also denied shaking, slapping or punching 5 month-old Emerald Herriot late last year prior to her death from severe head injuries.

Tubbs had told Mendocino County District Attorney investigators that he'd slapped and shaken the baby, but on Wednesday he said those statements were lies.

“I told them what they wanted to hear,” Tubbs said.

Even the now-retracted confession would not have explained the injuries that killed the child, according to physicians' testimony during Tubbs' trial on a charge of child abuse resulting in death.

The infant had two skull fractures, massive bleeding in her brain and more than 49 bruises on her face and head alone when she was flown to Children's Hospital in Oakland on Dec. 2, 2012.

Tubbs says that the night before, the baby fell or was knocked from a 21-inch-high bench where he planned to change her diaper. He said he was not in the room at the time.

Tubbs said she cried but otherwise seemed fine, so he didn't take her to the hospital. But the next morning she suddenly stopped breathing. Tubbs said he yanked her from her swing and quickly placed her on the floor to give her CPR. He has said he might have hit her head in the process.

Doctors have testified during the trial that babies fall all the time and the fall described by Tubbs would not have caused her death.

Thompson has implied someone else could be responsible for at least some of the injuries.

According to testimony, the child had a visit with her biological mother and her former foster mother a few days before she died. She also had spent some time with Tubbs' sister, who lived next door, and his daughter the Friday before her death.

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