CARROLL'S DEFENSE RESTS
CARROLL'S DEFENSE RESTS
EXPERT RIDICULES FAMILY'S STORY
November 3, 1993
The defense in the James Carroll case rested Tuesday after offering the testimony of a single witness and three pieces of evidence: death certificates, a videotaped experiment and a paramedics' report. Carroll's lawyer, John H. Rion of Dayton, said that was all he needed. The prosecution, Rion said, "allowed us to get in our defense through its witnesses."
On Monday, James had said that he was looking forward to testifying and telling the truth, but Rion didn't put him on the stand. Rion said James already had testified twice under oath, at a coroner's inquest this summer and at a grand jury session that resulted in charges against his parents.
Transcripts of those statements are among the 15 exhibits the prosecution presented to the judge, along with testimony of nine witnesses.
But Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck said Rion didn't want to put James on the stand to open up his client to further questioning under cross-examination. Schenck also said that Rion didn't want to risk the possibility of rebuttal testimony from the prosecution's second expert witness, Dr. Michael West of Hattiesburg, Miss.
On Tuesday West, the coroner and deputy medical examiner for Forrest County, Miss., used stronger words than anyone so far to challenge the family's story about the bleach-burning death of Hannah Carroll, 6, in which James is accused.
"It's a fairy tale. It's preposterous," West said, commenting on the family's statement that Hannah remained relatively normal until she died Sept. 21, 1992, three days after 30 percent of her body was burned with bleach.
Hannah's was the first of five deaths among the 10 adopted "special needs" children of Timothy and Kathleen Carroll of Cedarville, and remains the sole death in which charges have been filed.
James is charged with delinquency by reason of involuntary manslaughter, but Judge Richard T. Cole has said he could rule on a number of lesser included offenses. The trial will conclude today with closing arguments in Greene County Juvenile Court.
"I have no concerns. I think it's going to be fine," Mrs. Carroll said. "(James) really wants this to be over. He's real nervous."
While the first prosecution expert, Dr. Glenn D. Warden of the Shriners Burns Institute in Cincinnati, focused on injuries to Hannah's body in determining that Hannah couldn't have poured the bleach on herself, West said he found the most compelling evidence on the little girl's face and inside her mouth.
West, who is one of only about two dozen Americans who specialize in forensic dentistry, noted that no burns were found inside Hannah's mouth, but there were burns around the outside of her mouth and behind her tonsils.
"It tells me the little girl did not drink the bleach. It was poured onto her face. . . . Her head must be back for the fluid to go into her nose (and down her throat)," West testified. "Someone poured the bleach on the little girl . . . I have no doubt about that."
West also said that because a burn mark leads from Hannah's left eye straight back toward her ear, that further supports the idea that someone held her head back while the bleach was being poured on her.
Rion and his co-counsel, Dennis E. Gump, discounted the testimony offered by Warden and West because both experts said they never spoke to Alan A. Palmer, who was the county coroner at the time of Hannah's death.
Palmer was the sole witness for the defense.
His testimony was given Monday, in the midst of the prosecution's case, to accommodate his schedule.
Palmer said no one told him that Hannah's death was anything other than accidental. His successor, Manoj Desai, who took office in January, changed the cause of death to homicide following an inquest this summer.
James is suspected of pouring the bleach on Hannah because he was baby sitting at the time of the incident and admitted in testimony during the inquest that he was alone with Hannah while the only other mobile child in the family, Hosea, was outside on a riding lawn mower, Schenck said.