WILKES-BARRE – A fall down a steep, unsafe set of steps could have caused lethal injury to 1-year-old Zalayia McCloe, a biomechanical engineer and critical trauma physician testified Tuesday afternoon.
click image to enlarge
Lamont Cherry arrives at the Luzerne County Courthouse on Tuesday morning for the second day of testimony at his homicide trial. Cherry is charged in the May 2009 death of 1-year-old Zalayia McCloe, the daughter of his ex-girlfriend. Cherry is expected to be called to testify in his own defense this afternoon.
Cherry faces the death penalty if convicted by a Luzerne County jury of first-degree murder.
Testimony presented by defense attorneys will continue this morning, with Cherry being called to testify in his own defense by the afternoon.
Lenox testified that a barbell at the bottom of the steps in the child’s Carlisle Street, Wilkes-Barre, home could have been a likely impact point that could have caused two factures in McCloe’s skull, ultimately leading to her death.
“The stairs are steep and not safe,” Lenox said.
Lenox, a University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University graduate, used Silly Putty, a 2-foot pole, a human figurine and a model of a skull to demonstrate how a fall down a set of steps could have led to the child’s death.
The doctor also used velocity and kinetic energy formulas to calculate the force that would be required in a fall to fracture McCloe’s skull.
Assistant district attorneys Michael Vough and Maureen Collins are trying to prove to a jury of six men and six women that Cherry intentionally caused McCloe’s death by shaking her and striking her head off a hard object.
The attorneys called the last of their witnesses Tuesday morning -- a forensic pathologist who performed a June 1, 2009, autopsy on McCloe and a pediatric critical care physician, who testified about treatment he administered to the infant.
Forensic pathologist Samuel Land testified the child’s injuries were caused by blunt force trauma and her death was ruled a homicide. He said the injuries the 1-year-old suffered could not be caused by an accident, and torn muscles and ligaments in the child’s neck were caused by a whiplash-like injury.
Land said that bruises on the child’s buttocks, as well as her brain injuries, were caused at about the same time.
Several autopsy photos of McCloe were shown to the jury, illustrating injuries the child suffered
Physician Frank Maffei testified for most of the morning that McCloe suffered skull fractures and retinal damage similar to what occurs in shaken baby syndrome.
He said he has never seen injuries such as McCloe’s being caused by a fall and the child’s retinal damage is consistent with being shaken back and forth.
McCloe’s “abusive head injury” was “non-accidental,” Maffei testified, adding the child had “catastrophic brain injuries” and an “enormous” amount of blood was found in the child’s retinas.
“We knew we didn’t have anything we could do (to help McCloe) because the swelling was so bad,” Maffei testified, adding he and another doctor decided to remove part of her skull to relieve swelling in a last attempt to save her life.
“We felt we owed it to her.”