Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Child abuse: Indiana

 LIZ SHEPARD September 22, 2010
Port Huron Police Detective Brian Kerrigan held a binder on his forearm, demonstrating the way Scott Syzak showed him he had put oil on his 4-month-old daughter during a bath in 1995.
The detective then violently flipped his arm over, throwing the notebook to the ground, the same way he said Syzak demonstrated he put his daughter down.
The smack of the notebook hitting the ground in District Judge John Monaghan's courtroom seemed to send a tremor through the room, with those watching Syzak's preliminary examination gasping, covering their faces and dabbing away tears.
Kerrigan said that, while Syzak demonstrated how he put his daughter down, he spoke of his frustration with life and difficulties adjusting to life outside of prison at the time of the incident.
Syzak had been charged with abusing a 6-month-old child he was baby-sitting in 1989 in Tuscola County. He was sentenced to 32 to 48 months in prison.
Kerrigan said Syzak also told him during an interview that he did not like to be alone with the 6-month-old.
Syzak, 43, of Hobart, Ind., was bound over to circuit court on a charge of open murder, habitual offender fourth, after about two hours of testimony Tuesday.
In 1995, Syzak and his wife, Candace Syzak, told authorities the baby had fallen while getting a bath from her mother.
Kerrigan said he traveled to Indiana on Aug. 26 to interview Syzak after law-enforcement officials informed Port Huron authorities Syzak had made comments about the death of his daughter.
Kerrigan said Syzak's story of what happened the day his daughter was injured changed. In the first scenario, she had slipped out of his arms. In the later scenario, he had put her down with too much force.
Officials have said Jessica Syzak died of her injuries about a month afterward. The family was living in Port Huron at the time of the child's death.
Richard Anderson, the acting medical examiner in 1995, said he performed an autopsy on the infant.
He said the girl had a large skull fracture and the brain tissue underneath it had disintegrated.
"That is a massive injury," Anderson said, adding his findings were not consistent with a fall of about two feet.
As the doctor detailed the injuries he found on the girl, Syzak looked toward the courtroom windows, his legs constantly moving, making his shackles and the attached chains jingle.
Anderson said that in 1995 he ruled the death might have been caused by a seizure, but that was a direct result of the head injury.
He also found hemorrhaging behind the girl's eyes, a sign of shaken baby syndrome, he said.
Jessica also had nine broken ribs in the process of healing, Anderson said.
"That indicates child abuse," he said.
Anderson said he also believed the scene at the Syzak's home had been staged.
He said Jessica was wearing a blue sleeper, which was very clean.
"That's very unusual for a death scene," Anderson testified.
He said the child also showed signs of rigor mortis, which can take hours to set in after a death.
A circuit court arraignment date has not been scheduled for Syzak.

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