With forceful thumps, assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Frank Spryszak on Wednesday slammed the head of a lifelike baby doll against the jury box, against the prosecution table, and then against the floor of the courtroom.
A neurosurgeon testifying in the aggravated murder trial of Amanda Bacon said yes, that is the kind of force that would have been required to injure 6-month-old Avery Bacon so severely that his brain functions had all but stopped.
“It was definitely a very large amount of force that has been applied to the skull so in our parlance, in our world, we would call this a massive force to the head to result in this death,” said Dr. Patrick McCormick, who examined Avery at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center early on Dec. 17, 2012.
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Prosecutors say the child’s mother — who they allege did not want and could not handle her infant son — bashed his head two times on the night of Dec. 16 leading to his death two days later at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was transferred.
Ms. Bacon, 26, of 504 W. Alexis Rd. is charged with aggravated murder, murder, and endangering children.
She cried and wiped away tears as photos of her baby from the hospital were shown to the jury and as the doctors who attended to him described his condition.
Dr. McCormick said the trauma was so severe, Avery would have become unresponsive almost immediately.
“This child would not have been crying,” he said.
Defense attorney Spiros Cocoves told the jury in his opening statement that they would hear evidence that would point to “plausible alternatives to the state’s interpretation” of what happened to young Avery.
“The state said that this baby died a tragic death. On this, we agree. We also agree his death was caused by a fractured skull,” Mr. Cocoves said. “But we disagree on when it happened and who did it.”
He said prosecutors became “wedded” to their theory implicating Ms. Bacon early on and did not change course even when new evidence suggested otherwise.
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Jennifer Liptack-Wilson, an assistant prosecutor, painted a highly unflattering picture of Ms. Bacon in her opening statement, telling the jury that the defendant did not want her child, that for a time Avery lived with a couple who wanted to adopt him, but that when he was back in his mother’s care she was typically alone all day with her colicky baby without a phone or car.
On the night Ms. Bacon allegedly bashed her child’s head, Ms. Liptack-Wilson said, she then left Avery with her roommate, Frank Jones, and met another man at a hotel where he paid her for sex. Ms. Bacon only came home, she said, after Mr. Jones called her saying something was seriously wrong with Avery.
“Forty minutes after that call is when Amanda gets back to that apartment,” she said. “She doesn’t call 911 to help her son. She certainly did not involve the police.”
Instead, Ms. Liptack-Wilson said, Ms. Bacon and Mr. Jones drove the baby to Mercy St. Anne’s Hospital, where she began telling the first of many different versions of what happened to Avery. The story the evidence will show, she said, is that the baby’s mother was responsible for his death.
“When we say that Amanda bashed Avery’s head, we mean that she took that little baby and slammed it so hard that his skull actually began to separate,” Ms. Liptack-Wilson said. “There are two impact points on his head, which means she didn’t just bash his head once. She did it twice. That is what the evidence will show.”
The trial in the courtroom of Judge Frederick McDonald is expected to last through next week.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.