The homicide trial for an Allport woman facing charges in the death of a 2-year-old child continued Tuesday with testimony from medical experts.
Jennifer Ann Medzie, 22, was living with the child’s father, Cody Lauder, and caring for two-year-old Sophia Hoffman-Lauder when the child became unresponsive at their home in Bradford Township on Nov. 15, 2013. The child was taken by ambulance to Clearfield Hospital before being sent by helicopter to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where she was declared brain dead, and later died.
A doctor determined the child was the victim of abusive head trauma, according to court records. The autopsy doctor’s report said she died of global hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, resulting from blunt force trauma to the head.
Medzie is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Dr. Abdulrezak M. Al-Shakir, the medical examiner for Allegheny County, was the first witness in the second day of Medzie’s trial Tuesday morning in Clearfield County Court.
He outlined the various injuries from blunt force trauma on the girl’s body, which included six on her head, four in her trunk area and six more on her arms and legs. The biggest of these was a 4-by-1 centimeter bruise behind her ear.
Her skull bones were widely separated by swelling in her brain,which happens “if the brain is subject to trauma,” he said. There were multiple spots of bleeding on the girl’s brain.
Al-Shakir testified that the cause of her death was blunt force trauma to her head.
When asked when the girl would have become symptomatic with these injuries, Al-Shakir said, “I would expect it to be immediately.” He said she would have lost consciousness.
“This story, of the child answering questions and all of the sudden being unconscious, there is something in between,” Al-Shakir said. “The person telling this (Medzie) is not telling what happened.”
Dr. Adelaide Eichman, a child advocate for the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, testified that she interviewed the family about the case. Medzie told her the child woke around 7:30 a.m. and was able to walk from her bedroom into the living room. She urinated in a potty chair before being dressed by Medzie. Medzie stated that she put on her socks, a pull-up diaper, and when she started to put on her shirt, the child fainted.
Eichman said the girl’s brain was swollen, and there was bleeding on both sides of her brain. She also had retinal hemorrhaging behind her eyes. She determined Sophia was the victim of child abuse, and had suffered “abusive head trauma,” which Eichman explained is also referred to as “shaken baby syndrome.”
She agreed that the girl would have immediately become symptomatic.
“It would have been obvious that she was hurt.” She also testified that the injuries were not sustained by an isolated bump to the head, because there were multiple head traumas.
“Something different happened right before her symptoms, but this was not a culmination of other injuries.”
Dr. Harry Kamerow, a pathologist from Centre County, testified that he reviewed the information on this case.
His finding was that she had severe head trauma from a non-accident and died from global hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. She had bleeding in the brain and bruises on her head, chest, abdomen and legs.
“This is not a single blow to the head,” as she suffered multiple injuries. The only thing that does this is assault, he said.
“This case overwhelmingly indicates homicide.”
Medzie is expected to testify in her own defense on Wednesday.