LIMA — The state of Ohio on Wednesday wrapped up its case in the jury trial of a 23-year-old Lima woman charged with felonious assault and endangering children.
Prosecutors claim Cheyenne Hooper inflicted the injuries suffered by her 7-month-old daughter, Lyla Stratton, in March of 2019 at the family home in Lima.
The infant suffered what several medical experts have described during the trial as abusive head trauma on the morning of March 13, 2019, when she was in the sole care of her mother. Lyla was initially transported to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center with a variety of injuries that Hooper said were the result of a 3-foot fall from a bed.
The little girl was immediately transferred via LifeFlight to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, where injuries were diagnosed that included severe bleeding of the brain, a brain shift, neck injuries and retinal hemorrhages.
Three medical professionals testified Tuesday that the injuries sustained by the infant could not have been caused by a fall from a bed, as Hooper alleges. On Wednesday jurors heard yet another expert witness collaborate those opinions.
The state’s final witness was Dr. Randall Schlievert, director of the child abuse program at Mercy Heath in Toledo, who testified emphatically that a fall of the distance described by the child’s mother “was not the cause of (Lyla’s) injuries because those injuries just don’t fit.”
“A three-foot fall with these injuries is extremely rare. Abusive head trauma is the likely cause of (Lyla’s) injuries and I believe she was physically abused,” Schlievert said.
Hooper’s defense team is expected to call medical experts of their own on Thursday to refute those allegations.
Lima Police Department Detective Matt Woodworth, the lead investigator in the case, admitted under questioning from defense attorneys that no one knows for certain what happened on the morning in question. But the detective said the “totality of the information” gleaned by investigators indicated the injuries suffered by Lyla Stratton were not accidental in nature.
Hooper was visibly upset and dabbed tears from her eyes as a tape recording of her 911 call for help on March 13, 2019, was played for jurors during Woodworth’s testimony.
Also taking the witness stand Wednesday was Nichole Mikesell, an investigator with the Allen County Children Services agency.
Mikesell testified that — based on her initial interview with Hooper — it appeared that the infant’s mother “did not seem to understand how close Lyla was to death” as a result of her injuries. Mikesell said Hooper’s nonchalant demeanor during that session “didn’t match the (severity of the) situation.”
The Children Services worker also testified that Hooper said she had stopped taking pain killers that were prescribed following her breast enlargement surgery a week before Lyla’s injuries, but that a drug screen performed on the defendant “showed differently.”