Tuesday, 19 October 2010

SIDS: Grube; fractured skull

Grube found guilty: Gallia County mother convicted of aggravated murder in death of infant
by Amber Gillenwater
GALLIPOLIS — After a three-day jury trial, a Gallia County woman was convicted of aggravated murder and child endangerment in the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas on Friday.
Kansas D. Grube, 25, Gallipolis, was indicted on one count of aggravated murder, one count of murder and one count of child endangerment after she allegedly caused the death of her infant son earlier this year. Two-and-a-half month old Jaxson Grube was found unresponsive by first responders who arrived on scene at approximately 11 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2010, at the Grube residence on Ohio 218 near Gallipolis.
Initially, the Grube infant was thought to have suffered from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to the lack of any outward physical abnormalities present on the child. SIDS is the sudden expiration of an infant for which there is no explainable cause of death.
However, after an autopsy was performed, a standard procedure in the death of an infant, two skull fractures were found on the child’s head, one being on the left side above the ear and one on the back of the skull.
The jury began deliberations around noon on Friday. After approximately five hours of deliberations, the jury returned with its verdict. Since Grube was found guilty on count one of the indictment, aggravated murder, count two of the indictment was no longer applicable. The aggravated circumstance was added to the indictment since the victim in this case was under the age of 13. Aggravated murder is a special category felony, while endangering children is a second degree felony.
During closing arguments on Friday, Assistant Gallia County Prosecutor Eric Mulford and defense attorney Richard Hedges synthesized their cases and discussed the presented evidence with the jury.
Mulford began by discussing the language of the three-count indictment and later provided an overview of witness testimony.
Mulford indicated that the three expert witnesses, who gave testimony during the trial, indicated that the two fractures were not accidental and were caused by an unusual amount of force.
“An extreme, significant amount of force was exerted against this infant’s head, not once, but twice,” Mulford said. “This was no accident. If it were an accident, there would be one impact, not two.”
Mulford also discussed the several different “theories” offered by the defense in this case, including sympathy for the defendant.
“The state is not without sympathy for this family, or even for the defendant, for what happened in this case,” Mulford said. “But in the here and now we deal with the facts and we deal with the consequences of February 12, 2010.”
The videotaped interview of Grube with Det. Chad Wallace of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 13, 2010, was also outlined during the state’s closing arguments.
“The defendant’s partial confession to Det. Wallace, in which she minimizes the events of that day, is very telling,” Mulford stated. “It’s very telling because of not only what she said in the video, but it’s very telling because of its extreme inconsistency with what she told you on the witness stand.
“The state submits to you, to paraphrase Mrs. Grube, she decided to tell this jury whatever she thinks you need to hear so she can go home.”
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Richard Hedges told the jury that this case is every mother’s worst nightmare.
“To be falsely accused of intentionally causing the death of your infant son is probably the most horrendous thing that a person could experience,” Hedges said. “I don’t have any idea what it would be like to be accused of taking the life of a child like that, especially when you are innocent. And that’s something that I am going to ask that you remember; number one, a person is presumed innocent, and in this case, she actually is. And the facts of this case do consider that and do reflect that.”
Hedges later discussed the “question” as to the time of death and pointed to the fact that the expert witnesses presented by the prosecution could not conclusively tell the jury how long the interval was between when the injuries occurred and when death occurred. This is a significant point, according to Hedges, because Matthew Grube, who was allegedly abusive to his wife, Kansas Grube, may have had the “opportunity” to injure the child on the night in question.
“The opportunity for someone to be alone with the child was very strong,” Hedges said.
Hedges also extensively discussed the testimony that was presented that indicated that the defendant was an excellent mother and caregiver.
“Jaxson was a well-nourished, normally developed baby,” Hedges said and told the jury that the defendant’s husband even admitted that she was an excellent mother. “Her job, for all practical purposes, was to raise the kids. Matt, in his own testimony, said that she was a good mom.”
Hedges later referred to the interrogation session that occurred between the defendant and Det. Wallace, the night after the incident, in which the defendant suggested several scenarios by which the baby may have been injured and also made a “partial confession.”
“When you have a power broker, such as a detective, who is skilled and who has done innumerable interviews, who is taught and trained to illicit information, they have tricks of the trade. Their job is to get information, to solicit information and pull it out of the person,” Hedges said. “There were leading questions where, basically, the detective is putting words in Kansas’ mouth. He’s telling her what he wants her to say.”
In closing, Hedges pointed to the facts presented in the case. “The evidence shows issues but it does not show that Kansas abused her children,” Hedges said.
A sentencing date in this case has not been scheduled.

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