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Navy diver accused in son’s death

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Baby sitter Lakeysha Cardona said she wondered about the black eye on 1-year-old Brayden McVeigh when the boy’s father, Navy diver Matthew McVeigh, dropped off his son at her house.

Matthew McVeigh and Cardona’s husband were both assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 at Pearl Harbor.

A week or two later, there was a bruise on Brayden’s right wrist, which she thought was “a little fishy,” and she thought maybe the boy had been grabbed, she said.

That’s when, in the summer of 2009, Cardona said, she started taking pictures to document the injuries.

The boy had a large, L-shaped bruise on his temple and forehead just a couple of weeks after that, she said.

“I can still remember it to this day,” Cardona said yesterday of the purple bruise, which ran from the top of the boy’s forehead to his eyebrow.

She described other injuries, but on Sept. 20, 2009, 14-month-old Brayden McVeigh was dead. His father appeared in a Navy courtroom at Pearl Harbor yesterday, charged with murdering the boy by striking him in the head and shaking his body.

Cardona, who watched Brayden McVeigh and his sister, Brodi, for about two months that summer, testified by phone from Texas during Matthew McVeigh’s Article 32 hearing — similar to a civilian preliminary hearing.

The hearing for witness testimony is scheduled to run through Friday. Investigating officer Capt. John T. Wooldridge, acting as a judge, will then make a recommendation to Rear Adm. Dixon Smith on whether McVeigh, 26, should be tried at court-martial and on what charges.

McVeigh, who has not been in confinement, was in a summer white uniform and sat at the defense table yesterday, mostly looking down. He has since been reclassified an engineman second class.

McVeigh was charged by the military on Feb. 9 with one charge and two specifications of murder, one charge and two specifications of involuntary manslaughter, and one charge and one specification of assault in the death of his son, the Navy said.

Cardona, who said she alerted Navy health care providers and the state Child Protective Services about her fears that Brayden was being abused, was asked by the defense who she felt was responsible — Matthew McVeigh or the child’s mother, April.

“Honestly, I blame both of them,” Cardona said.

The defense said the case went to the state and that it declined to prosecute April McVeigh.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Trevor Hansen said he was part of a major case response team that examined the McVeighs’ home on Ford Island.

The house was in disarray with stains on the furniture and floors, he said. Hansen said that in the master bedroom, there were empty food containers and soda cans, soiled diapers, cigarette butts and empty pill bottles, some for narcotics including oxycodone and most with April’s name on them.

Brayden McVeigh’s mother and father were with the boy on Sept. 18, 2009, at their Ford Island home when he was found unresponsive, according to reports and family members.

The boy was rushed to the hospital, pronounced brain-dead 52 hours later and died Sept. 20. Brayden died “as a result of intracranial injury due to abusive head trauma,” the autopsy said. The severe brain injury could have been caused by shaking and/or impact, the report said.

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