A Fort Bragg man charged with killing his infant foster daughter took the stand during his trial Wednesday to deny he'd ever harmed the child.

"Did you beat that baby?" asked Public Defender Linda Thompson.

"No," replied Wilson "Josh" Lee Tubbs III, 39. He also denied shaking, slapping or punching 5 month-old Emerald Herriot late last year prior to her death from severe head injuries.

Tubbs had told Mendocino County District Attorney investigators that he'd slapped and shaken the baby, but on Wednesday he said those statements were lies.

"I told them what they wanted to hear," Tubbs said.

Even the now-retracted confession would not have explained the injuries that killed the child, according to physicians' testimony during Tubbs' trial on a charge of child abuse resulting in death.

The infant had two skull fractures, massive bleeding in her brain and more than 49 bruises on her face and head alone when she was flown to Children's Hospital in Oakland on Dec. 2, 2012.

Tubbs says that the night before, the baby fell or was knocked from a 21-inch-high bench where he planned to change her diaper. He said he was not in the room at the time.

Tubbs said she cried but otherwise seemed fine, so he didn't take her to the hospital. But the next morning she suddenly stopped breathing. Tubbs said he yanked her from her swing and quickly placed her on the floor to give her CPR. He has said he might have hit her head in the process.

Doctors have testified during the trial that babies fall all the time and the fall described by Tubbs would not have caused her death.

Thompson has implied someone else could be responsible for at least some of the injuries.

According to testimony, the child had a visit with her biological mother and her former foster mother a few days before she died. She also had spent some time with Tubbs' sister, who lived next door, and his daughter the Friday before her death.

Some, but not all, of the child's injuries may have been several weeks old, possibly predating the Tubbs' taking custody of the child, according to testimony.

According to testimony, the child had been unwell and acted as though she might have neurological damage prior to the Tubbs' taking the child — a relative — into their home.

Tubbs on Wednesday also sought to portray himself as a loving caretaker who would never harm anyone, especially the baby.

"I loved this baby," he said.

His wife, Marte, also portrayed him as a loving, mild-mannered man and said she can't believe he could have caused the injuries that killed the baby.

But Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira questioned her reliability as a witness.

He noted she'd lied both to police and to her husband about her whereabouts the weekend the baby died.

She told both she had gone to a relay race in the Sacramento area but actually stayed in Ukiah for two nights with a 26-year-old male friend of her daughter.

Marte Tubbs said she didn't consider it a lie because she originally planned to go to the race but the weather turned bad.

"Really?" asked an incredulous Sequeira. He also suggested she wasn't being truthful when she claimed her relationship with the young man was platonic.

Sequeira is scheduled to cross examine Josh Tubbs on Thursday morning. He's expected to try to bring Tubbs' history as a prescription drug abuser into testimony.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.