Judge upholds confession in Layton baby's death

Wednesday , July 16, 2014 - 1:58 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

FARMINGTON -- A judge ruled the confession of a Layton man accused of fatally shaking 1-year-old Aliyan Wild will not be suppressed. 

 Layton police interrogation techniques used while questioning Tyler Ryan Geary were questioned by defense attorney Fred Metos.

Judge Thomas Kay ruled on Wednesday following oral arguments presented by both sides that the statements made by Geary , 25, in September 2013 were not coerced, even though the police officers lied to Geary during the interview.

Geary is charged with first-degree felony child abuse homicide. He is being held in the Davis County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Sept. 4 in Farmington. 

The interview of Geary done by Sgt. Alex Davis and Detective Eric Smith was played during an evidentiary hearing in May before Kay.

For more than two hours of questioning by police, Geary denied he had shaken Aliyah Wild on Sept. 10, 2013.

During the interview Geary changed his story several times, including his written statements.

Kay said the officers did not threaten or make promises to Geary for a confession. The officers also took breaks, allowing Geary to go to the restroom, get a drink and also to have a smoke. 

At one point during Wednesday’s hearing, Kay said the video of the officers interrogating Geary was “the most boring thing in the world” and “It didn’t appear to me as exceptional police work.” 

Geary told police he was watching Aliyah while her mother, Jennifer Wild, was at work. They shared a room in a friend’s mobile home in Layton. Jennifer Wild worked nights until 6 a.m. so Geary could watch her daughter.

Aliyah died at Primary Children's Medical Center, where she was flown after Wild and Geary drove her to Davis Hospital and Medical Center.

Geary's attorney, Fred Metos, filed a motion in April claiming Layton police had coerced a confession from Geary.

In Wednesday’s hearing Metos said it is not right that police lie to defendants to get a confession.

Kay said, “I’ve seen juries, their jaws drop, when they hear the police lied to a defendant.”

"Courts need to be very careful when accepting lies,“ Metos said. 

Metos said the two officers involved in Geary’s interrogation were clearly making up facts, including that they had spoken with doctors concerning Aliyah’s medical condition. 

Kay said courts do allow police to lie to defendants. 

Geary told officers several times during the interview he had not shaken Aliyah. They told him several times the injuries Aliyah had suffered were not consistent with falling from a couch.

Geary did say at one point  in the interview he had thrown Aliyah into the air about three feet and she had landed on the bed three feet away. This was a detail police had not suggested to Geary, but one he provided to them, said Deputy Davis County Attorney Richard Larsen

Geary said in the video interview that when he realized Aliyah was unconscious he checked her breathing. He then called Wild to tell her the baby was breathing funny.

When asked by police why he didn't call 911 or stop at the hospital he passed when he drove to pick up Wild, Geary told officers he "didn't think."

The two officers told Geary they believed he was trying to cover up what he did to the baby.

"I would never hurt Aliyah," Geary said.

Geary did admit to officers he played a game with Aliyah he knew Wild did not like. He told officers he would throw Aliyah in the air and she would 'bounce' on the bed.

According to court documents, the injuries the baby had were "consistent with head trauma inflicted from shaking. Emergency surgery to remove a portion of the skull was required in an effort to reduce the pressure on the brain from swelling."

Jennifer Wild sobbed through the details about the last days of her baby girl's life at a preliminary hearing April 7.

Dr. Pamela Sue Ulma, assistant medical examiner, also testified at the preliminary hearing. She said Aliyah not only had a swollen brain consistent with a subdural hematoma, but also had injuries to the eyes, which could be caused by shaking, and a fracture on the left distal tibia. The cause of death was a closed brain injury, Ulma testified.

Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or lpark@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SELorettaPark.

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