By Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder

Staff Writer

Members of the court met Monday to begin the trial of the State of Kansas v. Christopher Charles Shafer.

Shafer is charged with one count of aggravated battery, either intentionally or recklessly causing bodily harm, and one count of abuse of a child, which are both personal felonies.

Judge Marilyn Wilder is overseeing the bench trial and heard opening statements and testimony of six witnesses on Monday.

In opening statements, the prosecution maintained that events occurring on Feb. 9, 2012 are the cause of the symptoms experienced by Shafer’s son, Edward James “EJ” Shafer.

“We’ll hear from all the caretakers around EJ on Feb. 9, 2012. We’ll hear that he was a happy, normal child,” said Lyndzie Carter, assistant attorney general for the state of Kansas. “He was basically blind after this incident. The explanation the defendant offers is not adequate.”

The defense maintains that previous incidents may have caused EJ’s symptoms.

“The defendant doesn’t have to offer any explanation. The state is responsible for eliminating the possibility of reasonable doubt,” said David Harger, defense lawyer. “Mr. Shafer is only charged with this case because he was the person with EJ when he became symptomatic.”

On Feb. 9, 2012, emergency responders arrived at the home of Shafer and his then wife, Angela Walthers, where their infant son EJ was found unresponsive.

Numerous injuries were found on EJ’s body at McPherson Hospital and at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. At the initial hearing, witnesses stated that on the morning of Feb. 9, 2012, the Shafer’s five-month-old son was healthy and normal.

The trial is set to run through June 20.

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.