DADE CITY — When Tyler Lydic was just 5 weeks old, someone shook him so hard his brain bled and his skull cracked, the prosecutor contended.
The baby's mother, Sherry Beth Bossick, was accused of aggravated child abuse in the June 2005 incident. But on Wednesday, a jury needed less than 20 minutes to determine she was not the one who inflicted the damage.
Bossick, 30, smiled quietly as the "not guilty" verdict was read. She hugged her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Steve Herman.
Bossick took the stand Wednesday to describe what happened June 4, 2005, when she was home in Wesley Chapel caring for Tyler and his twin brother, Cody.
"I felt that the jury needed to hear my side," she said after court. "I wanted to show I didn't have anything to hide."
On the witness stand, Bossick said her fiance, Thomas Lydic, came home from work in the afternoon while the boys were napping. She left to run some errands. And while she was out, Lydic called her, concerned because Tyler wasn't moving.
"That's all he said," Bossick testified.
Soon, she was on the phone with her mother to go check on the baby, she said. An ambulance was called, Bossick said she went straight to the hospital and then held a nearly constant vigil by her son's bedside.
Four days later, when speaking to sheriff's detectives, she recalled an incident early on June 4, when she was getting a bottle ready to feed Tyler. He lifted his head, she said, his weight shifted, she lost her grip on him and he struck his head on the kitchen counter.
There was no visible change in his behavior — he already had been fussy because he was hungry, she said. He took the bottle, and then went down for another nap.
But Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia seized on that story as evidence of Bossick trying to cover up an intentional act that she "conveniently forgot to tell anyone about."
She didn't call 911, take the baby to a hospital or even notify Lydic of what happened when he came home later.
"I didn't actually think of it, sir," Bossick said.
"Wouldn't that have been the prudent thing to do?" Garcia asked her.
"I don't know, sir," she replied. "Tyler had acted normal all day."
Herman's defense painted Lydic as at least as likely to have abused the baby. Bossick was home with him in the morning and early afternoon, then Lydic took care of him while she went out shopping.
"This happened in the evening of June 4, 2005," Herman told jurors. "And it was at that time Tyler was in Mr. Lydic's care."
Bossick and her family remained at the courthouse long after the verdict, calling friends and family with the news.
"I get to get my life back," she said.
Tyler, who is almost 4, is still recovering from his injuries — he is happy and active yet unable to walk or talk.
Bossick hasn't seen him since her arrest more than four years ago.
She said she's looking forward to celebrating the twins' birthday with both of them this month.
"It's been hard," she said, "only seeing one."
Molly Moorhead can be reached at (727) 869-6245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.