U.S. vs. E-4. Four Confessions. Defense Leaves No Stone Unturned. Defense Exposes Minor Injuries of the Infant Child Resulting in Minor Punishment
On 23 September 2008, “Baby R”, an alleged victim of “shaken baby syndrome,” began having seizures at approximately 1615. “Baby R” was taken to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with extensive subdural hematomas. The child sustained a large subdural collection of fluid and she showed signs of retinal hemorrhaging. She was also diagnosed with epilepsy when admitted to the emergency room. “Baby R” was transported to Tripler Medical Center in Hawaii in order to receive specialized treatment and she was treated at Tripler over the next few weeks. Mr. Gapasin's client was charged with two specifications of false official statement, two specifications of assault consummated by a battery against a child under 16 years of age with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm, and one specification of unlawfully striking a child under 16 years of age (i.e., “Baby R's” two year old brother). The defense obtained the expertise of a Child Abuse Pediatrician with the Armed Forces Center for Child Protection National Naval Medical Center. She became the defense expert consultant in the field of pediatrics and accidental and non-accidental physical injuries. The expert was necessary to aid the defense in determining the amount of force used. The defense also obtained an expert in the field of pediatric ophthalmology regarding retinal hemorrhages suffered by the child. In this case, it was alleged that “Baby R” would suffer blindness as a result of the injuries. In shaken baby cases, injuries to the eyes are frequently an issue. With a few weeks left before trial, the Government remained steadfast that the accused should be sentenced to up to 10 years of confinement. The defense understood, however, that the deposition testimony of two Oklahoma physicians could be key in obtaining a satisfactory guilty on behalf of the accused. Based on depositions that the defense fought hard to obtain, the doctors testified on video that in their medical opinion about 1 year after the incident, “Baby R” was alert and active with normal faculties like any other child. Contrary to the speculation expressed by the doctors who provided the initial treatment, the Oklahoma doctors testified that in their medical opinion, the child's condition had returned to normal and that she would live a normal, active life. As a result, the parties entered into a guilty plea where the prosecutors came down from their original 10 years to only 6 months confinement.