Enough evidence to put man on trial | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Enough evidence to put man on trial

A Douglas County judge on Tuesday found enough evidence to put a man on trial for allegedly neglecting his infant son, Nicholas. The 10-month-old was found malnourished next to his dead mother.

George Bariames will be arraigned Jan. 27 in Douglas County District Court in Minden.

Bariames, 36, sat beside defense attorney Derrick Lopez who questioned Bariames’ sanity, while Deputy District Attorney Dina Salvucci focused on the poor health of the infant when he was found by sheriff’s deputies.

Nicholas, after being flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for kidney and respiratory care, is now in the care of child protective services.

A toxicology report found that 35-year-old Debbie Bariames died of severe dehydration.

During the preliminary hearing at Tahoe Township Justice Court, Salvucci called an investigator, two deputies, Debbie Bariames’ mother, a paramedic and a neighbor of the couple. Lopez did not call any witnesses.

On Sept. 21 at about 8:40 p.m., two sheriff’s deputies responded to a welfare check at the Bariames’ Market Street apartment.

“Mr. Bariames sat back on the couch,” Deputy Anthony Field said. “As soon as I passed the threshold, I could smell a dead body.”

The deputies testified the apartment was in disarray, things were broken and boxes littered the floor.

“At my feet I saw what appeared to be a life-like doll,” Field said.

The deputy said Bariames then picked up the baby and said Nicholas was OK. Field said he asked Bariames if he could hold the baby. Bariames agreed, and Field rushed the limp and dehydrated Nicholas to paramedics who had just arrived.

Tim Allison, a Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District paramedic and firefighter, initially treated Nicholas’ airway and kept him warm. Twice he attempted to give the baby intravenous fluid but couldn’t find a vein.

Allison described Nicholas as a “baby that failed to thrive.”

Back at the apartment, Deputy Jeff Roberson was with Bariames.

“During the time you were there and talking to Bariames, did he make any odd stories?” Lopez asked.

“It was one long story, but it was odd, yes,” Roberson said.

Roberson said Bariames was “walking and talking and functioning just fine.” When Roberson asked when Bariames last fed himself and Nicholas, he answered a vague “yesterday.” Bariames told Roberson that he blacked out after three men broke into his home and battered him. Roberson said Bariames didn’t look beaten.

Bariames also said a woman named “Joey” was in his apartment. No one else was found in the apartment.

When Bariames was taken to Douglas County Jail, Roberson said he drank 10 cups of water and even more from a pitcher.

Lopez asked Allison, the paramedic, if adults can suffer from hallucinations if experiencing dehydration. Allison responded that it could be a symptom.

For her last witness, Salvucci called Jessica Baruth, the next-door neighbor and an acquaintance of the Bariames family. She said she met the three when they moved into their apartment on Sept. 8. She said Debbie Bariames was feeding a “laughing and smiling” Nicholas who was sitting in a highchair and eating.

A week later, George Bariames asked Baruth and her husband if they could babysit Nicholas. Baruth said a sickly and nervous-looking Bariames said he was taking his wife to the hospital and needed her to watch their son.

Along with Nicholas, Bariames dropped off a swing, diaper bag, 10 to 12 cans of baby food and two 4-ounce bottles of Pedialyte, Baruth said.

Baruth said the baby appeared malnourished.

“(Nicholas) was extremely light and he was really whining and crying and I figured it was just because he was in a new place,” Baruth recalled.

Baruth, a mother of an infant at the time, was shocked when she fed Nicholas eight cans of baby food without one spit-up.

“I got kind of worried so I stopped because I didn’t want to overfeed him,” Baruth said, adding “Oh, it scared me because that’s way too much for him to eat in 45 minutes.”

The neighbor said the the baby continued to cry so she bathed him, put on his pajamas and cut his long fingernails.

She changed his diaper with a newborn’s diaper and was surprised by the baby’s weight. The left tab went all the way to the right side and vice-versa, she said.

When Bariames dropped his son off, Baruth said he told her not to take Nicholas to the doctor because he didn’t want his son to be taken by child services.

On cross-questioning, Lopez asked Baruth about Bariames’ appearance. The neighbor said she saw Bariames on Sept. 20, a day before deputies arrived at the apartment, and mentioned he looked “out of it” and “real spacey.”

Bariames faces a maximum of 20 years in state prison if convicted on a charge of child abuse and neglect. He remains in Douglas County Jail on $200,000 bail.

— Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com

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