Thursday, 9 June 2011

SBS: Wisconsin: Andrew Goldston trial conflicting evidence

The jury chosen to decide the fate of Andrew Goldston got a crash course in medical analysis Wednesday as doctors brought in by the prosecution and defense offered greatly contrasting explanations for the fatal injuries suffered by his 1-month-old son.
Dr. Lynn Sheets, medical director of the child abuse program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, said she can say with “no hesitation” that Leander died of “abusive head trauma.” She examined the boy during the nine days he remained hospitalized before dying of his injuries.

“Absolute abuse – no hesitation,” Sheets told the jury. “You have severe rotational injuries, and that’s very different from straight-line or falling injuries.”

The jury also saw a picture of Leander for the first time, as Sheets displayed a picture of the boy in head restraints at Children’s Hospital. She said Leander had slight facial twitching immediately after he arrived but soon stopped responding and breathing on his own.

Sheets said the injuries, which included bleeding throughout the brain and severe retinal bleeding, could “absolutely not” be caused by falling 18 to 30 inches to the ground. That was the claim Goldston made in describing to police that the child fell from his arms as he reached for a remote control.

But Dr. John Plunkett, a forensic pathologist who specializes in infant head trauma, testified with equal vehemence that Leander’s injuries could have occurred in the fall Goldston described.

“They’re going to be rare, but (deaths) can occur,” he said.

Plunkett said the injuries Sheets cited as too extensive for a simple fall could have occurred as a cascading effect, with one causing the other in the aftermath of the fall.

Goldston also told a 911 dispatcher the child fell onto a bouncy seat, and he told a fellow jail inmate that he needed God’s forgiveness for squeezing, shaking and dropping the boy, witnesses testified earlier in the trial.

Goldston, 24, of Sheboygan, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide for allegedly causing the injuries on March 9, 2010. The trial began Monday and is scheduled to wrap up by the end of the week.

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