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.
Rivera sat, head bowed, as a crime scene investigator described photos he took of the girl as she lay in the hospital's intensive care unit the day before she died.
The defendant did not look at the pictures, which revealed bruising on the girl's chest and contusions on her legs. Prosecutors allege the bruises were caused by the defendant; Rivera's attorneys contend they were caused by the hospital staff.
The defendant's mother wiped away tears as she viewed the pictures shown to jurors on a flat-screen monitor.
Also Wednesday, a patrol officer who took Rivera and his 4-year-old brother to the Oklahoma City police station to be interviewed in the early morning hours of Aug. 17 told jurors Rivera was quiet and did not appear to be scared.
Officer Seth Toler recounted sitting with the defendant and his little brother, who watched TV and napped while detectives interviewed their parents in another room. Rivera had a cellphone, which Toler said he used to possibly text or play games.
The detective who interviewed Rivera testified at his preliminary hearing a year ago that Rivera's mother sent him a text message while she sat in a police interview room instructing him to lie about her being home all day instead of at work.
Rivera's parents, Carlos Beletzuy-Lopez and Linda Walleska Beletzuy, are awaiting trial on child neglect charges.