Baby beater behind bars
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tammy Curtis, Staff Writer David Andrew Waldrup, 22, of Cave City was found guilty of first degree battery, a class Y felony, July 14 in Circuit Court in Sharp County with Judge Harold Erwin presiding. Waldrup was sentenced to 10 years in the Department of Corrections by a jury of eight women and four men. The charges stemmed from an Aug. 20, 2008, incident when Waldrup and long time girlfriend Lacey Keener took their 12 week old infant to White River Medical Center in Batesville (WRMC) because he was not breathing normally, was unresponsive and had also experienced a previous episode of what the father described as "screaming bloody murder." The baby was treated at WRMC and Tabitha Breshears, registered nurse, reported the injury as suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services. They, in turn, contacted the Sharp County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas State Police. The baby was later air lifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) due to the severity of the injuries. Medical tests, including blood tests, X-rays and a head CT scan, conducted at both hospitals determined the baby had severe bleeding in the brain, healing rib fractures, two broken ribs, retinal hemorrhaging and a fold on one retina being discovered at ACH. The hemorrhaging was so severe the doctor who testified in the case said it made the whites of the baby's eyes red with blood. Further tests were also conducted at ACH to rule out any diseases such as brittle bone disease or the child being an easy bleeder, each of these tests proved to be negative for the respective diseases. Prosecutor Henry Boyce and Deputy Prosecutor Tom Garner presented the state's evidence in the Waldrup case. Witnesses called to the stand for the prosecution were Dr. Jerry G. Stone, a physician from ACH who treated the child. He was qualified by the court as an expert in both pediatrics and child abuse cases, having specialized in pediatric child abuse since 1978. Wendall Jines an Arkansas State Police Investigator also testified via a recorded interview conducted with Waldrup the morning after the incident, while at ACH in Little Rock. Jones was the first to take the stand for the state. He said he was called in the night of the injury as part of a team which is consulted by ACH to assist in cases where child abuse is suspected. Jones described the injuries the baby received in detail and confirmed through his years of training that this type of injury was inflicted by either, "Very vigorous shaking or throwing the infant against something, or possibly a remarkably hard blow to the head." Jones also commented on the location of the bleeding saying it was between and behind the two halves of the cerebrum, (the thinking part of the brain). Jones also elaborated on the rib fractures saying that the injuries weren't on the front side of the ribs as is customary in normal rib fractures, but rather on the back side near where the ribs wrap around and connect to the back bone. He said, "This is almost always due to a squeezing action, classic in child abuse cases." Jones said by radiology estimates the rib fractures were 2-8 weeks old. Although in later testimony, both the child's grandparents and mother would attest to his apparent normal health, Dr. Jones said that children who suffer these types of injuries may appear normal and learning problems may manifest as the child gets older. Waldrup's attorney R.T. Starken disputed the brain injury's seriousness by stating that there was no swelling which is normally what causes death in this type of injuries. Starken also told the jury that there were no surgeries required for the baby's condition, as well as no skull fracture present in the infant. Starken explored the possibility that the injury could have occurred from other means than Waldrup's striking the baby. He also questioned who had guardianship of the baby at the time the rib injuries occurred. Starken also...
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