Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session Date: April 19, 2016
Remanded by the Supreme Court, October 19, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Sumner County No. 156-2012 Dee
David Gay, Judge
Brittney S. Hollis and Rob McKinney, Nashville, Tennessee,
for the appellant, Randall T. Beaty.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent
C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District
Attorney General; and Thomas Boone Dean and Jayson Criddle,
Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined. Thomas T. Woodall,
P.J., concurred in part and dissented in part and filed a
OPINION ON REMAND
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
of 2010, Amber Peveler was living with her parents, Michael
and Deborah Needel, and her two daughters: the victim, who
was born in January 2010, and L.P., who was born on May 25,
2008. Because the victim and her sister are both minors, we
will not use their names. At the time, Ms. Peveler was
separated from her husband, Chad Peveler, because she came
home from work one day and found a Lortab pill on the floor
of their home that had fallen out of Mr. Peveler's
pocket. Ms. Peveler explained that Mr. Peveler was addicted
to pain pills, and she told him to leave because the two
children were always on the floor, and one of them could have
put the pill into her mouth.
time of the separation from her husband, Ms. Peveler had
worked for Walmart in Hendersonville for approximately seven
years and had become the store's customer service
manager. While working at Walmart, Ms. Peveler met Defendant,
and they became friends in March 2010. After her separation
from her husband, Ms. Peveler began spending more time with
Defendant. One day in September 2010, Defendant called Ms.
Peveler and asked if she would be his girlfriend, and she
said, "yes." Ms. Peveler testified that Defendant
was "good with the kids, and . . . took them to the
park." She also cleaned Defendant's apartment,
washed his clothes, and gave him "[q]uite a bit" of
Peveler testified that Defendant was in drug rehab in July
2010, and she began giving him Lortab pills from a
prescription that she had for back pain. Ms. Peveler said
that Defendant told her that he needed the pills for his knee
pain. Defendant later told her that he was addicted to Lortab
and Dilaudid. In October 2010, Ms. Peveler began buying pills
for Defendant from Marlon Thompson. She knew Mr. Thompson
through a co-worker at Walmart. Ms. Peveler admitted that she
took the victim and L.P. with her to buy pills from Mr.
Thompson on multiple occasions.
Peveler testified that while she was working, her parents or
grandmother cared for the victim and L.P. She spent time with
Defendant during the month of October 2010, and on one
occasion, she and the children spent the night at
Defendant's apartment. Ms. Peveler testified that she
noticed bruises on the victim, including her neck, sometime
between October 17 and 23, 2010. Ms. Peveler testified that,
even though she made "good money" working at
Walmart and she lived rent-free with her parents, she began
having financial difficulties because she was giving so much
money to Defendant. She began stealing from Walmart and
eventually lost her job and was arrested for theft on Monday,
October 25, 2010. Although she had no income, Ms. Peveler
continued giving money to Defendant.
Peveler testified that the victim and L.P. were with her
October 26-28, 2010, and they spent time at Defendant's
apartment. She said that on October 26, 2010, she and
Defendant "just hung out and played with the kids."
Ms. Peveler testified that she and the children spent the
night at Defendant's apartment that night and they
remained at the apartment for most of the following day,
Wednesday, October 27, 2010. Ms. Peveler and the children
later met Ms. Peveler's mother, Deborah Needel, for
dinner at Pizza Hut in Rivergate. Ms. Peveler noted that on
Wednesday, October 27, Defendant slipped and fell while
carrying the victim to the car. Her upper lip hit
Defendant's collar bone and was bleeding. She also noted
that on Tuesday or Wednesday, October 26-27, the victim fell
off the couch and hit the back of her head on the floor at
Mrs. Needel's home. However, there were no unusual
effects following those events.
Thursday, October 28, 2010, Ms. Peveler, the victim, and L.P.
spent most of the day with Defendant. Ms. Peveler and the
children later met Mrs. Needel for dinner at Captain D's
in Gallatin. At dinner, the victim got sick and vomited. Ms.
Peveler thought that the victim had a french fry stuck in her
throat. Later that evening, Ms. Peveler and Mrs. Needel were
giving the victim and L.P. a bath. Ms. Peveler noted that the
victim was acting "[l]ike a baby, splashing and playing
around, playing with her toys." Ms. Peveler did not
notice any ill effects of the victim from having vomited
earlier. However, when Mrs. Needel took the victim out of the
bathtub she noticed bruising on the victim's left
Peveler testified that on October 29, 2010, she was putting
the victim and L.P. down for a nap at approximately 12:30
p.m. when Defendant called and asked her to buy more pills
from Mr. Thompson. She said Defendant was going to sell the
pills in order to make some money to pay her back $200 that
he owed her so that she could make her car payment. Ms.
Peveler called Mr. Thompson and arranged to meet him at the
Walmart in Hendersonville at 5:00 p.m. Ms. Peveler testified
that she and the two children fell asleep and awoke at
approximately 3:30 p.m. Defendant called and asked when they
were going to leave the house. He continued calling her until
she arrived at his apartment with the victim and L.P. Ms.
Peveler testified that she arrived at Defendant's
apartment at approximately 4:30 to 4:45 p.m. and Defendant
met her at the truck. He gave her $80 to purchase the pills
and asked if L.P. could stay with him. When L.P. refused to
stay, Defendant asked if the victim could stay with him, and
Ms. Peveler agreed. Defendant then took the victim out of the
truck, still in her infant carrier, and took her inside the
apartment. The victim was awake at the time, and Ms. Peveler
was talking to her.
Peveler then drove to the Hendersonville Walmart to meet Mr.
Thompson. He walked up to her car window, and she told him
that she did not have enough money to purchase the eight
pills as originally requested and that she wanted to purchase
six. Ms. Peveler testified that Mr. Thompson spoke to L.P.
and asked about the victim. Ms. Peveler then told Mr.
Thompson that the victim was with Defendant. After the
transaction, Ms. Peveler spoke with Defendant and told him
that she was driving back to his apartment. When Ms. Peveler
arrived at Defendant's apartment, he walked outside to
get L.P. and help with the diaper bag. She walked into the
apartment and saw the victim sleeping in her infant carrier
at the end of the couch. Ms. Peveler asked Defendant to lay
the victim down in the back bedroom while she cooked some
Ramen noodles for L.P. Defendant then took the victim out of
the infant carrier and placed her in the back bedroom. Ms.
Peveler gave Defendant the pills that she purchased, and he
placed them in a cellophane cigarette package. While Ms.
Peveler fed L.P., Defendant was on the phone. He then
announced that they needed to "meet a guy to buy the
pills." Ms. Peveler went to the back bedroom to get the
victim, and she noticed that "something wasn't
right." She testified:
[The victim] was at an angle here at the end of the bed, and
she was laying on her back, and I never put [the victim] on
her back. She always laid on her belly.
. . .
[Defendant] had placed a pillow on the right side of her-no,
her left side, but right here. And a pillow over top of her
head. And he had placed a blanket on her, but it was weird
how he put the blanket because the blanket was up to her
chest and her hands were outside of the blanket. Instead of
just leaving her fully covered, her hands were, like, by her
Peveler testified that she tried to wake the victim but the
victim did not respond. Ms. Peveler then opened the
victim's eyelids and noticed that her pupils were
extremely dilated. She picked the victim up and carried her
into the hallway and told Defendant that something was wrong
with the victim. Defendant looked at the victim and walked
into the kitchen to get a cup of water. He sprinkled some of
the water on the victim's face, but she did not move. Ms.
Peveler placed the victim on the floor, and Defendant
determined that she was not breathing. He performed CPR on
the victim, and when Ms. Peveler suggested that they call for
an ambulance, Defendant said that they would drive the victim
to the hospital. Ms. Peveler then picked up the victim, and
Defendant drove them and L.P. to the emergency room.
they arrived at the hospital, Defendant dropped Ms. Peveler
and the victim off at the emergency room entrance while he
and L.P. parked the truck. Ms. Peveler walked inside the
emergency room and told a staff member that the victim was
unresponsive. The victim was immediately taken away to a room
for treatment. At some point, Defendant walked into the room
and began yelling and cursing. A nurse told Defendant to calm
down or he would have to leave. Ms. Peveler and Defendant
then walked outside to smoke while the victim was taken for a
CT scan. Ms. Peveler testified that while they were outside,
Defendant suggested that they tell the following story:
"It was that I [Ms. Peveler] had the girls the whole
time, that I never left [the victim] with [Defendant], that
we were supposed to go get pizza, and that's when I found
[the victim]. I was the one that put her down for a
nap." After the victim returned from having the CT scan,
Ms. Peveler asked Defendant to leave because Mr. Peveler
would soon be arriving at the hospital. Ms. Peveler was then
advised that the victim had bleeding on the left side of her
brain, and she was having seizures and that she would be
taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
Peveler's mother drove Ms. Peveler and L.P. to
Vanderbilt, and they were joined by Mr. Peveler and other
relatives. During that time, Ms. Peveler was texting
Defendant. Later that night, Mr. and Ms. Peveler were advised
how serious the victim's injuries were. Throughout the
evening, Ms. Peveler continued texting Defendant
"[a]bout how [they] needed to stick to the story."
On Saturday evening, October 30, 2010, Ms. Peveler met with
detectives at the Hendersonville Police Department. She
"told them the first story that [Defendant] had said
that we needed to stick to." But "[t]hey knew it
wasn't the truth." During a smoke break, Ms. Peveler
phoned her friend, Rebecca Wyatt, and she asked Ms. Wyatt to
tell police that she met Ms. Peveler at Walmart to give her
some gas money. However, Ms. Wyatt was not willing to lie for
her. Ms. Peveler finally told Mr. Peveler the truth about
what happened, and then she told police.
meeting with police in Hendersonville, Ms. Peveler returned
to Vanderbilt to be with the victim. She testified:
The doctors met with us and said that they were going to do
their second brain test.
. . .
They brought in a person that looks at their eyes. And he
said that the retinas were detached from her eyes. And that
there was no eye movement. There was bleeding from behind her
eyes. And then, once he left, they took her off the breathing
machine and she quit breathing and then they hooked her back
. . .
The doctor pronounced her dead at 12:41 a.m. Sunday morning.
the victim was pronounced dead, her body was maintained on a
breathing machine to preserve her organs for transplant.
Carroll, a nurse at Hendersonville Medical Center's
Emergency Room, testified that she was working on October 29,
2010, when the victim was brought into the hospital. She
I remember-I remember the event because, fortunately,
it's not one that you see very often. Just the emotion
from it will stick with you for a very long time. It was a-it
stands out pretty vividly, actually.
One of our-our triage nurses or the area that you start out
in when you come into the ER, that little section there where
you sit with the nurse, tell them what's going on, how
long it's been going on, that kind of thing- the lady
that was out front came back with a small child in her arms,
brought her into room 1, said she needed help because the
child was unresponsive. The mother was in tow at that point.
She came into the room and they laid her down and we began
working on her at that point. The biggest thing that stands
out really though is the reaction of the mother's
boyfriend at the time that it all occurred.
. . .
Me and Dr. Harrison, who was the attending [physician] that
night, were trying to establish some sort of intravenous
access, a way to give medications to the patient that would
work effectively and quickly. We were on the far side of the
bed. The boyfriend of the mother came running through the
door, yelling and screaming, that kind of thing, cussing, and
was just very, very aggressive.
. . .
Generally, when you have upset parents, that kind of thing,
you have victims of trauma that come in, and parents will
come in the door, that kind of thing. They can be very, very
loud. And it's just, you know, parents' protective
behavior, you know. But the thing that got me with him was
that he didn't-he never looked at her. He screamed and he
yelled at us, cussing, that kind of thing, but her never
looked at her.
When you have a parent that comes in and is scared for their
child, they may be yelling, but they're looking at the
child. They look at them and say, "What's going on?
Why are they doing this? Why are they doing that?" That
was never the case at that point.
It didn't last very long, but I will remember it. And at
that point we asked him to leave. The anger was there; the
Carroll noted that the victim arrived at the hospital at
approximately 5:50 p.m. on October 29, 2010. Her notes
contained the following history concerning the victim:
According to this, the mother stated that the patient had two
emesis, which is a case of vomiting. She had two cases of
vomiting yesterday. Drank a bottle, however, the night before
and then that morning without any difficulty. And then stated
that the patient was taking a nap. The mother placed the
patient in a car seat and then went back to the patient and
was not responsive and they brought them into the hospital.
Carroll testified that the victim was "posturing"
when she arrived at the emergency room. She explained that
"posturing" is similar to a seizure and is an
indication of either "head injury or seizure or both.
One could be caused by the other." Ms. Carroll noted
that there was bruising on the victim's neck and
buttocks. A physical assessment reveled that the victim was
not responsive to any sort of stimulus. The reason for the
victim's non-responsiveness was head trauma.
Carroll testified that the victim stopped breathing on her
own at 6:05 p.m., and "at that point, respiratory was
bagging her not for support but for life sustaining
measures." She noted that various measures were taken to
sustain the victim's life such as the placement of an
intraosseous line to inject fluids directly into the
victim's bone marrow, the use of atrophine to raise her
heart rate, and intubation to assist with her breathing. The
victim received a CT scan and, once stabilized, was
transported by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Children's
Hospital at 7:10 p.m.
Duane Harrison, an emergency room doctor at Hendersonville
Medical Center, was qualified as an expert in emergency
medicine. He testified that while the victim was in the
emergency room "either a family member or someone that
came in, was somewhat belligerent, and I rather sternly asked
him to remove or be removed." Dr. Harrison further noted
that the person "was making demands, he was using
profanity, and it wasn't something that we needed at the
time, and it was distracting to what I was trying to get my
team to do."
Harrison went through the examination process of the victim
in detail. He noted that there was "bruising on her
neck, on her glute or butt cheek and in the inguinal area
right below her stomach as well on the left." Dr.
And that is put there because it is inconsistent with what I
hear, but not just because it's inconsistent. It's
when I ask if the child has fallen, has there been any
injury, and I hear no, and then I see the bruising. I'm
putting it there to reflect why. And it's also so I can
go back and make sure I check that something else hasn't
not notice any blunt trauma to the victim's head.
Concerning the results of the victim's CT scan, Dr.
Well, what it says is there's a large frontel parietal
and temporal, temple, area subdural hematoma. That just means
that underneath one of the coverings of the brain-and there
are three-there has been some bleeding. And the bleeding
itself is problematic, but not as-it's
problematic-it's problematic in the fact that it
indicates something has happened, but what is more
problematic is what it does to the brain. Because it
accumulates, it has to make way for the space it needs so it
accumulates. And as it accumulates, it begins to push-it
begins to push the brain out of the way.
And that's what we're seeing when they say
there's a mass effect, meaning we stick a mass down in
there that shouldn't be there-blood, and we make way for
it by pushing the brain to the other side. And pushing the
brain causes some of the things that we worry about. It
causes the loss of consciousness, it causes depression of the
breathing, it causes the abnormal posturing that we see in
And so we now have a reason for why we might see some of the
things that we see there. There's something that has
happened that has caused the bleeding to occur and that's
why the scan is there, and that's what it showed us
shortly after we obtained it.
Harrison testified that the victim's skull was not
fractured which he did not find unusual. He explained that
the bone structure of a nine-month-old baby is different than
that of an adult:
Well, the bones are softer, but they're also not fused,
for lack of a better word, so that there is play to allow the
head to grow. There are growth plates and suture lines, and
it is not uncommon to see intracranial problems without
trauma, some because of the softness of the bone and the
ability for it to move in and out, but the other is that
there is a significant number of cases that we see that we
see this in what we call shaken baby syndrome. In fact,
it's one of the hallmarks in shaken baby syndrome where
the rotation itself causes tearing and the bleeding occurs
from that instance.
So while we frequently see patients without obvious head
trauma, we also see those same patients with intracranial
problems like bleeding and bruising that occur simply from
the mechanism of trauma, and the mechanism of trauma can be
rotational and shaken baby syndrome is probably the one at
the top of the list.
John Coarsey of the Hendersonville Police Department
testified that during the early morning hours of October 30,
2010, he was asked to conduct an interview with Defendant. At
approximately 4:00 a.m., Sergeant Coarsey and a patrol
officer approached Defendant's apartment and knocked on
the door. Defendant answered the door and was "very
cordial" inviting the officers inside. The apartment was
in disarray, and there was a woman that Defendant identified
as his "girlfriend" asleep in the back bedroom.
Sergeant Coarsey identified a recording of the interview he
conducted with Defendant which was played for the jury.
Defendant also wrote out a statement which had been misplaced
and was not available for trial. Sergeant Coarsey testified
that Defendant was cooperative and cordial during their
interaction with him.
Detective Tim Bailey of the Sumner County Sheriff's
Office testified that on the morning of October 30, 2010, he
was asked to help investigate the present case. He
interviewed Ms. Peveler's parents and the victim's
grandparents, Mike and Deborah Needel. He also photographed
Ms. Peveler's bedroom and the couch from which Ms.
Peveler said that the victim fell the previous Wednesday.
Mrs. Needel stated that she witnessed the victim's fall
from the couch.
Bailey testified that he photographed the victim's car
seat or infant carrier and collected it as evidence. He also
obtained consent to search Ms. Peveler's cell phone. The
phone was taken back to the Sheriff's Office, and they
"basically made a mirror copy of it with some software
that the sheriff's department has." The phone
contained certain text messages from Defendant to Ms. Peveler
which Detective Bailey read into the record. Detective Bailey
testified that according to medical records, the victim
arrived at the emergency room at 5:50 p.m. on October 29,
2010. At 7:24 p.m. that same night, Defendant sent the
following text message to Ms. Peveler: "I've been
praying so much, baby. It's a shame that it took this to
happen to make me propose to you. I hope you tell Chad [Mr.
Peveler] that I'm your fiancé. I love you,
baby." Defendant sent the following additional text
message at 7:41 p.m. on October 29, 2010, while Ms. Peveler
was at the hospital: "Baby, how's she doing? Pls . .
. answer me, sweetheart [??!!!]" Defendant sent the
following messages to Ms. Peveler on October 30, 2010:
6:38 p.m. - "Hey, babe, you still busy? I hope
you're still coming over."
6:43 p.m. - "Can you call me p-l-s?"
6:47 p.m. - "Why are you acting like this? Just because
you are with Chad?"
8:34 p.m. - "You going [to] call me back, babe?"
8:34 p.m. - "I miss you[.]"
Bailey testified that he interviewed Defendant at 4:00 a.m.
on October 30, 2010, and he later obtained Defendant's
cell phone records. He noted that Ms. Peveler was interviewed
at 5:50 p.m. on October 30, 2010. Ms. Peveler told Detective
Bailey that she was at the hospital when she received
Defendant's first text message on October 29, 2010. She
also communicated with Defendant during breaks while she was
being interviewed by police on October 30, 2010. Detective
Bailey thought Ms. Peveler's interview process took four
to six hours.
Bailey testified that Ms. Peveler's cell phone records,
based on cell phone tower information, corroborated her story
that on October 29, 2010, she drove to the area of
Defendant's house, then left Defendant's house and
drove to the area of Walmart, and went back to the area of
Defendant's apartment and then to the area of
Hendersonville Hospital. Detective Bailey testified in detail
concerning calls made from Ms. Peveler's cell phone on
October 29 and which cell phone tower or sector the calls
were made from.
November 1, 2010, Detective Bailey and Detective Bachman
drove to Defendant's apartment. They spoke to Defendant
and asked him to accompany them to the Hendersonville Police
Department to give a detailed interview, and Defendant agreed
to do so. Detective Bailey testified that Defendant's
initial statement was identical to what Ms. Peveler first
told them. During the interview, Defendant changed some of
his story. Detective Bailey noted that, when Defendant was
left alone at one point during the interview, he read one of
the investigator's notes.
Fleming, a pediatrician employed with Vanderbilt University,
is an expert in pediatrics and child abuse. On October 30,
2010, she was the physician on call for the Child Abuse
Response and Evaluation Team (CARE) and was asked to come to
the intensive care unit at Vanderbilt to evaluate the victim.
Dr. Fleming had reviewed all of the records relating to the
victim, and she was familiar with the course of treatment
that was provided to her by Vanderbilt.
Fleming testified that, when the victim arrived at Vanderbilt
Children's Hospital, she was in cardiac and respiratory
failure. Dr. Fleming said:
[The victim] was then immediately taken up to the intensive
care unit at Vanderbilt. And there they continued to try and
support her by breathing for her with a ventilator, by giving
her fluids, by giving her medicine to try to decrease the
pressure in her brain because they knew that she was having
swelling in her brain. And they actually put in a monitor
into her brain to try and measure how high that pressure was.
The neurosurgeons and the pediatric surgeons evaluated her.
Fleming testified that the neurosurgeons reviewed all of the
scans which revealed that the victim had subdural hematoma,
or a blood clot, on the outside of her brain as a result of
trauma. They also determined that there were no surgical
options to remove the clot. Dr. Fleming noted that the
victim's brain was extremely swollen. At that point, Dr.
Fleming evaluated the victim, who was intubated. The victim
already had one examination for "brain death" that
day, and she had been declared "brain dead at that
point." The victim also had a "cerebral profusion
study" to look at the "blood flow to the vortex of
the brain, and that was positive for brain death as
well." Dr. Fleming testified that the victim had a
second examination for brain death the following morning and
the victim was again declared brain dead. Her organs were
later harvested for donation on November 1, 2010. It was Dr.
Fleming's opinion that the victim suffered "abusive
head trauma." She specifically testified that a fall
from a couch would not have caused the head injury. Dr.
Fleming testified that the "most likely mechanism for
all of these things is some combination of shaking and impact
of her head against a hard surface."
Fleming testified that she spoke with the victim's
parents, Chad and Amber Peveler, as part of her evaluation.
She said that Ms. Peveler gave the following statement:
And [Ms. Peveler] stated that [the victim] had been acting
completely normally [sic] on the morning of the trauma and
that she had been playing with her older sister.
At some point they went over to [Defendant's] home, who
is a friend of [Ms. Peveler], [the victim's] mom. And Mom
said that she was trying to put her to sleep and she was
laying-she had [the victim] laying on her chest and was
trying to put her to sleep, and she went to put her down in
the back bedroom.
And then about 20 minutes later, she went back to get her,
and [the victim] wouldn't wake up at this point. She said
she was limp and not responding to her. And so her friend,
[Defendant], had tried to get a pulse and couldn't find
it and tried to do CPR and that didn't work and tried to
splash water on her face and that didn't work.
So they got into their truck and drove to the emergency room
right away at that point.
Fleming noted that the victim had bruising on her face,
buttocks, and around her vaginal area. "She had bruising
on her chest and on her inner thigh and a bruise on her
Concerning the findings from the victim's ophthalmologic
exams, Dr. Fleming testified:
One of the concerning findings from her ophthalmologic exams,
or her eye exam, was obtained by looking through the pupil at
the inside of the eyeball. So the eyeball is actually a globe
and it has fluid inside it and you can see all the way
through using special lenses to the back, which is called the
retina. And she had retinal hemorrhages, which are seen on
both sides. These are related to her abusive head trauma.
We also had something called retinoschisis, which means that
actually part of the retina was torn off the back of the
inside of the eye, and that is almost never seen in anything
other than abusive head trauma.
asked about the time frame of the victim's injuries, Dr.
Fleming further testified:
It's very difficult to give a specific time, but the
child would not have been acting normally after this
happened. So the fact that mother told me that she was acting
normally the morning of [sic] means to me that this happened
after that point in time.
There can be a wide range of symptoms that happen after this
from fussiness to going directly into coma, but she's not
going to have progression like this that's so rapid when
she comes to the hospital without it having been progressing
I would expect that this happened within the day, probably
within 12 to 18 hours at the most prior to the time that she
showed up in the hospital.
Fleming testified that the victim's injury was a
"violent inflicted injury" most likely related to
shaking. She said:
The shaking causes the brain to move back and forth and rips
tiny little veins that sit between the brain and move out
from the brain. That's how you get the subdural
The shaking causes the shearing forces, so rubbing the two
things next to each other, which caused the retinal
hemorrhages in the eyes, and then the fact that she has this
swelling on the outside of her skull on more than one side.
Actually, based on the medical examiner's evaluation, she
had more than one impact to her head against a hard surface.
Fleming testified that she had seen injuries similar to the
victim's from a horrific car accident or a fall from a
second or third story building.
Bridget Eutenier, an associate medical examiner at Forensic
Medical, the Office of the Medical Examiner in Nashville,
performed an autopsy on the victim. She determined that the
cause of death was blunt force injuries to the victim's
head, and the manner of death was homicide. Dr. Eutenier also
defined the circumstances of death as "[a]ssaulted by
other(s)." She noted that the victim was declared
legally dead at 12:41 a.m. on October 31, 2010. The
victim's bodily functions were continued until after 4:00
a.m. on November 1, 2010, at which time the baby's organs
were harvested for donation.
Dr. Eutenier described her external observations of the
victim's head as follows:
There were two faint blue contusions on the posterior aspect
of the left side of the head and they measured one-half and
There was a one and one quarter by one inch slight blue
contusion on the right side of the head. There was a faint
three-quarter inch area of brown discoloration on the left
side of the jaw. And a one-and-one half inch faint brown area
of discoloration on the right side of the jaw.
Eutenier further testified that the contusions on the victim
were indicative of "some force applied, some impact, of
this child's head." A third contusion was discovered
on the posterior of the victim's head.
Eutenier found a seven-centimeter hemorrhage on the inside of
the victim's scalp on the right posterior side of her
head. There was a second seven-centimeter hemorrhage in the
middle of the victim's head and a third hemorrhage
measuring ten-and-a-half centimeters by nine centimeters
closer to the front left side of her head. In addition to the
damage to the victim's brain, Dr. Eutenier found a
"diffuse subdural hemorrhage of the spinal cord."
She also found "bilateral optic nerve sheath
hemorrhages, retinal hemorrhages of the left eye, and
possible retinal hemorrhages of the right eye[.]" There
were also blunt force injuries to the victim's torso. Dr.
Eutenier testified: "The bruises that she had on her
torso did not cause her death, but they are an indication of
trauma occurring." Concerning bruising to the
victim's neck, Dr. Eutenier testified:
Well, by the time I did the autopsy, it was just an area of
discoloration so I could not definitively conclude based on
the autopsy that it was a bruise. But after reviewing medical
records and photographs from the hospital, there were bruises
on the jaw, and they may or may not have occurred at the ...