Jury hears details on toddler's injuries

Date: 2006-06-21

Tracey Ann Brosch and her husband, Jeffrey, paid more than $12,000 to bring a child into their family.

They traveled from Rochester Hills to China to meet a little girl abandoned in her first days of life.

Four months later, Tracey Brosch took then-13-month-old Kaitlyn Brosch to a doctor, where the staff quickly summoned an ambulance and the barely conscious toddler was rushed to Crittenton Hospital Medical Center. Doctors quickly determined she needed to be taken to William Beaumont Hospital's critical care unit for brain surgery.

On Tuesday, a year and a day after Kaitlyn arrived in the United States, an Oakland County jury began to hear details in what led to Kaitlyn being injured so badly that her skull had to be cut to relieve pressure from internal bleeding.

Tracey Brosch, 43, faces up to 15 years in prison, charged with first-degree child abuse.

Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Sara Pope-Starnes said the mother was the one caring for the girl on the day the injuries occurred and that this was no accident.

Defense attorney Richard Lustig said Tracey Brosch was only trying to help the toddler, who appeared to have trouble breathing. Lustig also questioned whether her husband could have injured Kaitlyn earlier, whether the girl's doctor provided adequate care and whether doctors and detectives were too quick to focus on the mother.

Unable to conceive on their own, Tracey and Jeffrey Brosch went through the Great Wall Adoption Agency in Austin, Texas, in search of completing their family. Along with travel costs, they paid $12,240 for the adoption, and Jeffrey Brosch worked two jobs to let his wife stay home.

On Oct. 27, Jeffrey Brosch left for work in a Southfield computer company about noon, working a 1-9 p.m. shift before going to his next job in Ann Arbor to work an overnight shift, something he did twice a week.

Too tired for the drive home, he testified he stayed in a motel from 7 a.m. to noon on Oct. 28, when his wife called to say that Kaitlyn was having trouble breathing. He said he started for home when the doctor's office called to tell him to go to Crittenton.

Jeffrey Brosch testified that the toddler appeared to be fine when he left for work in the morning.

By the time he saw her again at the hospital, the infant had a bruise under her right eye, a bruise on the top of her head, scratches and marks on her shoulders and chest, was barely responsive and hardly moving. She was on her way to surgery.

Before that day, Kaitlyn had been able to stand upright, was walking with the help of furniture and speaking a word or two, such as "dada."

Doctors feared she was blinded but her sight is better, though there may still be problems, Pope-Starnes said. There is also a problem with her left arm, but the extent of her injuries will not be known until she is older, perhaps school-age.

Jeffrey Brosch said that today, the 22-month-old is getting better, having undergone a recent surgery to put back the piece of skull removed to prevent the bleeding and swelling from killing her.

"She recently began walking again," he said. "She's added a couple of words to her vocabulary."

After 13 years of marriage, the estranged couple has only spoken about bills and such since the incident, and they are divorcing. Tracey Brosch's parenting rights have been terminated, and Jeffrey Brosch's have been temporarily suspended.

Kaitlyn is in foster care. To add to the turmoil, the nurse who had been caring for the toddler suffered a heart attack and died several weeks ago.

Now, after several delays due to scheduling conflicts, the case is in court.

Lustig said after putting the child down for a nap, the mother discovered she couldn't wake up the baby and she was having trouble breathing. The attorney said jurors would hear about "how Tracey somewhat panicked and didn't know what to do. She tried to get the baby to wake up," placing her on the kitchen fl oor and rubbing her back vigorously.

"She did everything she could to make it breathe," Lustig said. "She did what she was supposed to do."

But Pope-Starnes said that defense is unbelievable.

"The defendant's statements about just trying to help her daughter, who was having trouble breathing, are just not consistent with her injuries," Pope-Starnes said. "This is not a good mother caring for her child. This is a child abuser."

The trial continues Thursday before Oakland County Circuit Judge Steven N. Andrews.

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