Mother describes son's disabilities one year after baby severely injured

Terrence Harper accused of beating 4-month-old son, charged with injury to child

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - It was less than a month ago that Taylor Hibbens was granted full custody of her son, Trace, who was severely injured a year ago.

Trace is almost a year and a half old now, living with many disabilities. When he was 4 months old, he was allegedly abused by his father, Terrence Harper, who is charged with injury to a child.

Harper has also been indicted on a capital murder charge for the death of another 4-month-old, dating back in 2012. The indictment said Harper struck the boy with an unknown object, shook him and threw him against a wall and floor.

The 2012 incident did not involve Trace's mom, but Hibbens said she was still shocked to hear Harper was connected to the death of a child in an incident that happened years before Trace was born.

It was just one year ago, almost to the date, when Trace was injured.

On July 12, 2018, Hibbens got a call from her then-fiance, Harper, who said their son was sick, and he sent her a picture.

"I was at work. I looked at the picture and said something's wrong," Hibbens said.

Doctors at University Hospital told her Trace had severe trauma, including retinal hemorrhaging, bleeding in the brain, a cracked skull, traumatic brain injury and rib fractures.

"He had a stroke, so the left side of his body was completely paralyzed. He had a face droop. He has cortical visual impairment, so he's legally blind. He now has cerebral palsy because of his TBI," Hibbens said.

Harper claims the infant's injuries were caused by the family dog. Still, days later he was arrested and charged with injury to a child.

Just five months later, in December 2018, Harper was arrested again for allegedly abusing and killing a different 4-month-old in 2012. That incident was originally ruled an accident. He is charged with capital murder of a child under 10.

"I feel like this could have been preventable," Hilbbens said. "Two innocent 4-month-olds, that's crazy."

When asked if she wouldn't have been with him if she had known about the 2012 incident, she answered, "Absolutely."

She thinks about that daily as Trace's seizures continue. Up until a month ago, he had seizures every day. Now, it's about one a week.

The seizures are being treated with medicine Hibbens said costs up to $49,000 a year. Trace also has six different therapists he sees multiple times a week.

"He's been to the hospital 37 times in the last year," she said.

She said at first glance, it's hard for people to tell that Trace is disabled.

"Some people think he can see. He can't see. He can't walk. He can't talk. He can't do anything. He can't even crawl. He can't even sit up by himself," Hibbens said.

What he can do is make his mother grateful.

"He's taught me how to overcome anything," she said.

Harper's attorney sent KSAT the following statement, saying Harper "maintains his innocence and looks forward to having his name cleared at trial."

In the 2018 case that left Trace injured, Harper was represented by the now-District Attorney Joe Gonzales.

On Monday, the DA's spokeswoman said Gonzales has already recused himself from both cases.

Terese Huntzinger has been appointed special prosecutor.

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