Thursday, 16 December 2010

SBS: Texas: Jose Herrera

Chris Paschenko : December 15, 2010
LEAGUE CITY — Although two medical examiners disagree on whether a 6-week-old boy was shaken to death, they agree he was alive when his injuries were inflicted.
Jose Herrera Jr. likely was alive when he suffered 14 rib and spinal fractures; head, stomach and lung bruising; eye trauma; and two abrasions to his back, according to testimony Tuesday from two Galveston County medical examiners.
Jose Isaias Herrera, who turned 20 today, was charged with injury to a child in the Oct. 27, 2008, death of his only son, Jose Herrera Jr. The boy, called Baby Jose at trial, was found cold and face down in his crib at his parents’ League City town home.
During day six of testimony in Judge Lonnie Cox’s 56th District Court in Galveston, Dr. Stephen Pustilnik, chief medical examiner, and Dr. Nobby Mambo, deputy medical examiner, testified Baby Jose died of blunt-force trauma.
Mambo testified someone vigorously shook Baby Jose, leading to his death.
Pustilnik, however, testified he didn’t believe the boy was shaken but rather dropped or thrown against something.
“Holding the child and slamming (him) onto something doesn’t fit the definition of shaken baby syndrome,” Pustilnik said.
The “vigorous shaking” broke the boy’s back, Mambo testified.
Baby Jose didn’t have an injury to his brain, which can be a result of shaken baby syndrome, but it is possible the child died before the body had time to produce a brain injury, Mambo said.
Mambo also testified none of the injuries occurred after the boy’s death.
Mambo ruled the death was caused by blunt-force trauma.
“A child cannot inflict these injuries on itself,” Mambo said. “Somebody must have, and that’s why I ruled it a homicide.”
In the previous testimony, jurors heard Herrera gently shook the lifeless body of Baby Jose before performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a mattress.
Defense attorneys Jeth Jones and Kyle Verret contend that lifesaving attempt caused the child’s injuries. Prosecutors Donna Goode and Kayla Allen disagree.
Evidence suggested one of the child’s 13 ribs fractures was inflicted possibly two weeks before his death.
The boy’s injuries were uncharacteristic in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Pustilnik said.
Pustilnik took the jury on a nearly three-hour lecture, showing medical studies on bones, how they are formed and how they heal after breaking to bolster his claim the injuries occurred before or at the time of the child’s death.
After the state rests its case, possibly today, the defense is expected to call a former medical examiner from Kansas City, Mo., to contest the state’s findings.
Herrera also is expected to testify.

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