EXPERT QUESTIONS STORY
EXPERT QUESTIONS STORY
CARROLL SON'S TRIAL OPENS
November 2, 1993
Dayton Daily News
The three little girls were nearly the same age and weight as Hannah Carroll.
They were told to act as Hannah Carroll supposedly did three days before she died of bleach burns. One by one, each climbed atop a washing machine, grabbed a bleach bottle off a shelf and poured its contents onto herself.
But that's where the similarities end. The bottles contained red Kool-Aid, not bleach. The three girls laughed instead of cried. And most importantly, an expert testified, they couldn't make the liquid flow in a way that would duplicate the wounds suffered by 6-year-old Hannah.
Presented Monday in defense of 17-year-old James Carroll, who is accused in Hannah's death, the videotaped experiment actually strengthened the prosecution's case, said Dr. Glenn D. Warden, chief of staff of Shriners Burns Institute in Cincinnati.
"Remarkably, you found the same results as I did," Warden said. "You could not reproduce the injury."
Warden was the first expert witness to testify in the case against James, which began in Greene County Juvenile Court on Monday and is expected to continue before Judge Richard T. Cole through Wednesday. Assistant Prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt said the prosecution could rest its case today, following testimony of Dr. Michael West of Hattiesburg, Miss., a nationally recognized wound-pattern expert.
West is also being consulted in the death of Josiah Carroll, 12, one of two Carroll children exhumed in October for further examination. Prosecutor William F. Schenck said lab results, which could lead to charges in Josiah's death, should be ready today.
Between Hannah's death in September 1992 and Josiah's last June, three other adopted children of Timothy and Kathleen Carroll died in their Cedarville home. The Carrolls say God has told them to care for "special needs" children.
All the children who died had disabilities - and the family says all but Hannah died from natural causes. The couple pleaded guilty in January to neglect for failing to seek medical treatment for her burns.
Hannah, who had Down syndrome, would have had to lift the half-full bleach bottle above her shoulders with one hand to re-create her wounds - and "that is literally impossible . . . even an adult cannot do that," Warden said. The girls in the videotape used both hands - and couldn't lift the bottle so that the liquid flowed over their upper arms and shoulder blades, Warden noted.
James Carroll's lawyer, John H. Rion of Dayton, objected to Warden's testimony - and refused to concede that Warden is a burns expert even though he has 23 years' experience in burn treatment and has credentials filling 44 pages.
"If Dr. Warden isn't a burns expert, nobody is," Schmidt said.
Rion said that no matter what Warden says, his testimony provides no evidence pointing to James as the perpetrator.
But Schenck said, "There doesn't seem to be any dispute - that it was either Hannah or James who poured the bleach - and I think the circumstances show it was James."
The family sticks by the story they've been telling all along:
Hannah was alone in the utility room and James, who was baby-sitting, was outside when he heard her cry out. He ran inside, called a family friend for advice and immediately rinsed her off. The burns seemed to be healing and Hannah acted normally until she collapsed three days later, the family says. Mrs. Carroll insists Hannah's burns didn't look as bad as they appear in post-mortem photographs.
But as the pictures were shown during Monday's proceedings, all three Carrolls in the courtroom - Mr. and Mrs. Carroll and James - looked away.