Excelsior Springs man charged with murder 20 years after shaking baby

Posted at 11:42 AM, Nov 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 19:29:47-04

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — After he shook a baby 20 years ago, an Excelsior Springs man is being charged with second-degree murder.

A Clay County grand jury indicted Olin Tannery, 39, on Tuesday, saying he caused the death of his son, Dominick Pittsenbarger, by shaking and squeezing him in 1998.

Late in the evening on Feb. 19, 1998, Tannery allegedly picked up Dominick, who was then six weeks old, and squeezed and shook him, Excelsior Springs police said in a 1998 probable cause statement. Tannery then threw the baby down. 

Tannery told investigators that he could not get the child to be quiet. 

The infant, who was then called Dominick Tannery, received life-threatening injuries, including multiple rib fractures and head injuries. He was given a “poor” chance of recovery, according to the probable cause statement. 

Pittsenbarger survived as an infant but died in April 2018 when he was 20 years old, allegedly due to complications caused by the shaking.  

John Picerno, a Kansas City defense attorney who is not involved in the case, said that prosecutors will need to prove that the assault in 1998 is what caused Pittsenbarger's death 20 years later. 

“The issue really boils down to matter of law, of can they prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not the actions of the defendant ultimately caused the death of this kid,” Picerno said.

Tannery, who served 13 years in prison for the shaking, is in custody on a $500,000 bond. His next court appearance is set for Nov. 20.