A doctor from Nationwide Children’s Hospital who has extensive experience in observing cases of retinal hemorrhaging, testified Tuesday that the death of 4-year-old Donavon Poole was the result of shaken baby syndrome.
Erica Colopy, the then live-in girlfriend of Ricky Poole, Donavon’s father, is on trial for involuntary manslaughter in Knox County Court of Common Pleas.
Dr. Phillip Scribano, director for the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, told Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher that Donavon’s eyes pointed to evidence of trauma.
“These facts are consistent with a different mechanism than just impact,” said Scribano, pointing out the visual differences between injuries from a fall and those of a “shaking mechanism.”
“This is what laymen may refer to in the term of shaken baby syndrome ... regardless of age,” said Scribano. In referring to Colopy’s report of Donavon falling on the stairway, “This is a history that is just incompatible with the injuries on Donavon,” said Scribano. “I do not believe his injuries are only the result of him falling down a stairway.”
Scribano said he believes it is the result of the “shaking mechanism,” which can cause alteration in consciousness and an impairment of breathing. Other reasons for his conclusion, he pointed out, are documented ear injuries and genital injuries that are not expected from a fall down a flight of stairs and the retinal photos suggest insight involving a “shaking mechanism.”
Thatcher then asked Scribano if Donavon died from injuries sustained in circumstances he had just described.
“Yes,” Scribano said.
Scribano said he observed Donavon after he was admitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in October 2009. Thatcher shared numerous photos with Scribano showing the injuries to Donavon, which Scribano stated showed bruises to the left side of his cheek, scars above one eyelid and bruising over his nose. Also reported were extensive bruising on his right flank, and bruising on parts of his back, as well as his pelvis and pubic area.
A skeletal survey was also conducted, but Scribano stated it did not show any evidence of skeletal fractures.
Colopy’s attorney, James Giles, questioned Scribano about his knowledge of literature focusing on retinal hemorrhaging which suggests young children are more susceptible to head injuries since they have a larger head-to-body ratio than adults. Giles suggested factors of distance and surface are paramount when looking at instances where children fall.