LIMA — Testimony on Thursday in the trial of Anthony Davenport revolved largely around a pair of dueling medical experts.
Two medical specialists — one a witness for the state, the other for the defense — gave extensive and often contradictory opinions about what each believes happened to 30-month-old Kyler Skeens that caused the young boy to be taken to a Lima hospital in a “lifeless” state in March 2017.
Prosecutors and Davenport’s attorney also sparred throughout the day, with testimony peppered by objections from both sides.
Davenport, 34, is charged with second-degree felony counts of assault and endangering children for allegedly causing the traumatic brain injury suffered by Skeens on the morning of March 21, 2017. The young boy was described in earlier testimony as limp and virtually lifeless when he was taken to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center that morning.
A CAT scan determined the youngster had suffered a traumatic brain injury, and the boy was subsequently LifeFlighted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
Dr. Randall Schlievert, the vice president of academic affairs at Mercy Health-Toledo and an acknowledged expert in the field of child abuse pediatric medicine, testified that injuries suffered by Kyler Skeens were the result of “significant whiplash injury to the brain” and that bruising on the boy’s testicles, anus and the back of his legs “did not happen from a fall, (but) are definitive evidence of physical abuse.”
Schlievert also testified that more than a dozen retinal hemorrhages were found in the back of Skeens’ eyes.
“After a look at all the possible explanations, there is no other reason for those hemorrhages to be there except for repetitive shaking and/or the possible slamming” of Skeens’ head against a solid object, Schlievert said.
“The injuries were due to an abusive head trauma. It wasn’t a result of an accidental fall,” Schlievert testified. “The symptoms (Skeens) had were exactly what you’d expect; the onset of those symptoms would have been immediate because a brain injury is immediate.”
While defense attorney Kenneth Rexford maintained his belief that Skeens succumbed to a condition caused by a series of falls, “that is not what happened here,” Schlievert said. “Pre-existing conditions had nothing to do with what happened on March 21, 2017.
Taking the stand as a defense witness during the afternoon Thursday was Dr. Joseph Scheller, a pediatric neurologist based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Randall Basinger alleged that Scheller has “made a career” of traveling around the country to dispel the notion of shaken baby syndrome to defense attorneys.
Basinger asked Scheller if the injuries suffered by Kyler Skeens “could have been caused by the defendant in this case?”
“Possibly,” the doctor answered. “But I know these types of brain injuries can happen accidentally, too.”
The defense has suggested throughout the trial that the boy had suffered a series of injuries prior to March 21 that caused his condition to deteriorate that morning.