Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Testimony challenged in Pasco child abuse case

DADE CITY — There is no eyewitness to question on the stand, no other suspect to grill in front of the jury in the aggravated child abuse trial of Thomas Eugene Warren.

Instead, to keep his client out of prison, Assistant Public Defender Dillon Vizcarra put the medical science behind shaken baby syndrome itself on trial Thursday.

Could something else have left Warren's 3-month-old child near death in 2005, with blood leaking into the infant's brain, eyes and throat?

Could an old blood clot explain the swelling in the baby's brain instead of a fresh blood clot?

Could anything but the allegation that Warren violently shook his own child on April 1, 2005, explain the extensive and permanent injuries the now 3-year-old boy must live with?

No, no and no, answered the state's medical experts. And so it went on day two of the trial.

• • •

Jurors heard from doctors and a detective's audiotape of Thomas Warren.

The father denied he hurt his child, according to the detective's report, but also admitted that he slammed his fists into the mattress of the boy's crib hours before he found his son had stopped breathing.

In 2005, the victim's 3-year-old brother told deputies that Warren became frustrated with the baby because he would not stop crying.

The defense theory is that the infant was actually injured weeks before the father's arrest, when a small child accidentally kneed the 3-month-old in the head.

Vizcarra seized on earlier medical testimony that an old blood clot was discovered by surgeons who operated on the victim's skull to remove a fresh clot (another doctor had testified that dating blood clots is unreliable.)

That, along with a congenital condition, the defense theorized to the jury, could have led to the torn blood vessels found in the victim's brain and eyes — bleeding often associated with shaken baby syndrome.

"Is a chronic subdural hematoma …consistent with a knee to the head of an infant?" Vizcarra asked a witness.

Not unless the skull was also fractured, said Dr. Doug Hassel, director of the Pasco Child Protection Team.

"I think it's more likely from being shaken," Hassel testified. "We're not just talking about the presence of blood. There was evidence of brain swelling.

"That's a lot of injuries that you just don't see with an accident."

• • •

The defense called one witness: the family's old babysitter, Michelle Loo.

She testified her young daughter accidentally kneed the victim in the head weeks before the father's arrest while Loo was changing the infant's diaper. But she also testified that the child didn't show any symptoms of a serious injury. "So it was very slight and inconsequential?" asked Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia.

"Objection," Vizcarra said.

The judge overruled him.

"He didn't cry long," Loo testified. "I comforted him. I held him. He seemed fine."

Warren will get the chance to take the stand today.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Testimony challenged in Pasco child abuse case 08/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 8, 2008 8:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech

    Editorials

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  3. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance (w/video)

    Blogs

    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  4. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  5. Andy Serkis' directing debut 'Breathe' is not so inspiring

    Movies

    After such a revolutionary acting career, Andy Serkis should be expected to make an equally inventive directing debut. Breathe is anything but that.

    Clare Foy and Andrew Garfield star in Breathe as Robin and Diana Cavendish, an English polio victim and his devoted wife, who pioneered disability rights and wheelchairs with ventilators. [Imaginarium]