Our client was charged with the torture of a child who had a fractured skull and brain damage. The prosecution expert was a Radiologist, and, a self-proclaimed “child advocate.” He testified at the preliminary hearing that the force needed to cause the injury would be created by swinging the child by his feet around and around over the perpetrator’s head and then slamming the child’s head into a wall. Indeed, the “expert” demonstrated so with much fervor. However, under cross examination, the prosecution expert admitted to never having witnessed such an act. Indeed, the expert’s indignant retorts was, “What kind of a person do you think I am?” More to the point, the expert was unable to cite any research as to child skull damage resulting from a drop on a hard surface.
However, the father was adamant that the injuries were a result of an accident wherein the child had fallen from his arms at the airport. The prosecution radiologist expert nevertheless maintained that it would take a fall from over a dozen feet for such injuries to have been sustained.
The problem with obtaining research on this type of act is that, one cannot intentionally fracture the skull of child (even one that is deceased) to measure the force necessary due to a host of obvious legal and ethical considerations. Indeed, even, such experiments with animals were being shut down by animal rights advocated on grounds of cruelty.
Then, our Science Advisor discovered studies done on “artificial” brains. The American Automobile Industry had developed an “artificial brain” to use in crash experiments to study the damage cause by different forces on the human brain. This research was also helpful.
Next, our inhouse Science Advisor contacted a researcher with a master’s degree in Library Sciences who worked at UCLA Medical School Library. In a worldwide survey, a study done in Germany on the cadavers of children was uncovered. The studies dropped the cadavers on their heads from different heights and onto different surfaces. The resultant injuries were recorded. While the study itself was of course deeply disturbing, it conclusively demonstrated that the injuries to the child in our client’s case, could have resulted from a fall of as little as 2 ½ feet onto the hard airport floor, just as our client had said.
This research was provided to a local radiologist. While the radiologist had never seen anything like it, he agreed to testify for the defense. The case was dismissed. SCIENCE SET HIM FREE.