Wednesday, 17 November 2010

SBS: Missouri: Caringer: Timetable of infant's death disputed during trial

Kathryn Wall November 11, 2010
Doctor says baby's injuries within hours of death; defense disagrees.
While prosecutors worked to prove an infant died of an abusive head injury in a single day, the defense questioned a pattern of injuries that they say were the real cause of the 9-month-old's death.

Lucas Theede-Bennett died Jan. 6, 2009. His baby-sitter, Brenda Caringer, is charged with his murder.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors have argued that Caringer was the only person who could be responsible for the traumatic head injuries that ultimately lead to Lucas' death.
The defense claims Caringer was preparing a bottle for Lucas when she heard a thump and came into the living room to see the infant falling back from her coffee table. He stopped breathing a short time later, the defense has said.
They contend that a series of falls Lucas experienced in the eight days prior to the Jan. 6 incident were a slow lead-up that triggered his death.
The prosecution presented Dr. Martin Jones, the trauma doctor who directed Lucas' care after he was flown to Cox South hospital.
"His injury was severe. His presentation was just as dramatic ... I have not seen a minor fall like that ever cause that type of injury," Jones said.
Jones noticed shortly after Lucas' death that he had retinal hemorrhages -- bleeding in the arteries of the eyes most commonly connected with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
CT scans performed on Lucas after his death revealed a skull fracture and bleeding and swelling of his brain. Jones declared Lucas' cause of death "abusive head trauma."
Caringer's defense attorneys cited the mention of an older area of bleeding on the brain in Jones' report that they say points to previous, older injuries that slowly contributed to Lucas' death.
Jones acknowledged that the CT scans showed an area that could have been another, smaller area of bleeding that was older than other areas in the brain, but he said those areas were considered "questionable" in the scans and could have easily been an overlap or another error in the image. He said if the area was bleeding, it was unrelated to the skull fracture and the massive bleeding that caused Lucas' death.
"It's not significant enough to cause the profound injury we found on the child," he said of the possible past injury.
Jones also said the extent of Lucas' injuries would have been immediately apparent. He said the skull fracture and subsequent bleeding had to have occurred within hours of Lucas' death.
The prosecution presented five other witnesses Wednesday -- including police personnel who responded to the scene, paramedics who treated Lucas and another woman whose daughter was being watched by Caringer at the time.
Police and paramedics who responded to Caringer's home said many of the same things heard Tuesday -- Lucas was cold to the touch when they arrived, Caringer was frantic and wasn't answering questions and that Caringer's story seemed to change as the time went on.

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