Support our mission

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Kylie Delgado was a “code” — no breathing, no pulse — when the 2-month-old baby arrived at Misawa Air Base’s emergency room in the early morning of July 15, 2006.

Her medical treatment — leading up to the point when the baby was disconnected from life support two days later — was the focus Friday of the third day of Seaman Recruit Jonathan Delgado’s court-martial at Yokosuka Naval Base.

The Misawa sailor is charged with killing his daughter by shaking her to death in his family’s Misawa Air Base apartment. Delgado’s defense contends Kylie died of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, and that Delgado woke up and found the baby unresponsive beside him.

At the time, Kylie’s mother, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michelle Delgado, was working a night shift at Misawa’s Naval Information Operations Command, where both sailors were employed.

When a seemingly healthy, thriving baby suddenly stops breathing, doctors have questions, said pediatrician Dr. Joseph Johnsonwall, one of six medical personnel who took the stand Friday.

“[Kylie] was a big baby and growing very well — there were no problems, no complications,” Johnsonwall said in an emotionally charged testament to the infant’s healthy medical record. “When this suddenly changes, you have to wonder what happened.”

The baby was resuscitated after 26 minutes in Misawa’s emergency room, but she couldn’t breathe without a respirator. She was later medevaced to the neonatal intensive care unit at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa in the care of Dr. Ryan McAdams, who said he suspected the baby was brain dead before the transport to Okinawa.

“It’s never news you want to talk to a parent about,” McAdams said.

He performed two brain function exams, 24 hours apart, before they made the final determination, the neonatologist said.

“Both (parents) were crying when they decided to withdraw life support,” McAdams said.

He said Jonathan Delgado additionally asked him if Kylie’s condition was “irreversible” and if it could have been caused by him accidentally rolling over on her while they were sleeping. “I told him ‘no,’” McAdams said.

Several of the physicians indicated that there was no sign of trauma on the baby’s body that indicated child abuse or a bleeding disorder, but eye exams were requested in both Misawa and Okinawa to check for blood in the retinas.

That is common practice when there seems to be no explanation for the baby’s condition, doctors said, because “bilateral retinal hemorrhage” is a symptom of potential child abuse.

Misawa optometrist Dr. Darren Rhoton said he saw “massive retinal hemorrhages — too many to count” in both of the baby’s eyes before she was medevaced to Okinawa and examined by ophthalmologist Dr. Gregory Bramblett.

Bramblett said Kylie’s eyes showed multiple red spots “all over the place” and that it confirmed his suspicion of child abuse.

Defense attorney Lt. James Jung called into question the examination, as a later postmortem investigation of Kylie’s eyes at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology found that there were “no obvious hemorrhages” seen in the gross examination and only “minimal hemorrhages” seen under a microscope.

Some doctors believe that shaking alone could not have caused the bleeding found in the baby’s brain, Jung said.

“There are two schools of thought, both supported by doctors, at odds with each other,” Jung said.

Kylie was in the age range — 2 to 4 months old — where SIDS is most common, Jung said, but the physicians said they did not suspect SIDS as it is typically a “diagnosis of exclusion” reached after discounting other possibilities.

The court-martial continues Monday in Yokosuka’s Western Pacific Judicial Circuit Court Japan at 9 a.m.

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up