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ER doctor refutes defense claim in trial of teen charged with baby sister's death

Crystian Rivera, 14, is accused of causing the injuries that killed his 9-month-old sister after she interrupted his video game; defense attorneys say she was hurt when she fell off a bed
by Tim Willert Published: November 1, 2012

A doctor testified Wednesday that a fall from a bed did not kill a baby girl whose teenage brother is accused of abusing her for interrupting his video game.

Katherine Grant, an emergency room physician who treated the girl at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, said the girl's injuries — a fractured skull, swelling of the brain and bleeding around the brain — were “consistent with what we call abusive head trauma.”

“In my opinion, she was a victim of abuse,” Grant said.

The injuries, the doctor added, were not consistent with a fall from a 3-foot-high bed because of the location of the fracture to the back of her skull and bleeding “not directly associated with the fracture.”

Crystian Rivera, 14, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 9-month-old sister, Linda Beletzuy, who died Aug. 19, 2011, from head injuries.

Prosecutors allege the girl died after her brother shook and tossed her for interrupting his game.

She was injured while left in Rivera's care for more than six hours on Aug. 16, 2011, while her parents were at work.

Rivera's attorneys contend the girl was injured when she fell off a bed in the family's southeast Oklahoma City apartment.

Grant said the injuries were probably caused by a “shaking episode as well as some type of striking episode,” prompting defense attorney Michael Johnson to accuse her of changing her previous testimony.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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