Expert witness backs ‘shaken baby’ theory at Yokosuka court-martial
January 17, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — An expert witness called the death of Kylie Delgado a “clean” and “straightforward” case of fatal child abuse.
The 2-month-old was a healthy, “smiling, interacting” baby and “the next morning she was dead,” said Capt. Tamara Grigsby, a child abuse pediatrician who testified Tuesday at the court-martial of the baby’s father at Yokosuka Naval Base.
Seaman Recruit Jonathan Delgado is accused of shaking his infant daughter to death on July 15, 2006, in the Misawa Air Base apartment he shared with his active-duty wife.
Delgado, 22, says he didn’t harm the infant and that he awoke to find the baby “cold” and “blue” beside him on the bed where he and the baby were sleeping.
His defense counsel maintains the child died of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
The baby was resuscitated in Misawa’s emergency room, but was declared brain dead after being flown to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, where life support was withdrawn July 17, 2006.
Grigsby, one of many doctors testifying in the case, said Kylie died of “shaken baby syndrome.”
Grigsby works at the Tripler Army Medical Center and is a child abuse specialist.
A proponent of prevention and education, Grigsby said she had an indirect hand in the “Never Shake Your Baby” public service announcements often seen on American Forces Network.
She did not examine the baby herself, she said, and instead relied on witness statements, medical evidence and the autopsy report to reach her conclusion, she said.
Kylie’s “constellation of injuries” — including a brain hemorrhage, three fractured ribs and bleeding in her retinas — presented a “clean” case for SBS, given the other medical conditions that were tested for and excluded, she said.
But there have been cases where SBS was misdiagnosed, and there are still unanswered questions about SBS, she said.
“That term can be used loosely, so you want to be cautious,” Grigsby said. “You want to get it right because of the implications.”
Defense counsel Lt. James Jung called SBS a “theory,” highly contested by doctors.
He said Grigsby’s report was “selective” in terms of the information she used.
When debating a medical article that cited rib fracture injuries, Jung called into question the varying ages of the participants and methodology used, saying it wasn’t “apples to apples” in the Delgado case.
When Grigsby answered that “oranges had value,” Jung asked, “Can we send a man to prison for life for murder comparing apples to oranges?”
The defense was to begin its case Wednesday.
If Jonathan Delgado is convicted, the maximum punishment is a life sentence and a dishonorable discharge.