THERAPIST CONDUCTS INTERVIEW

Date: 1994-07-01
Source: newsbank.com

THERAPIST CONDUCTS INTERVIEW

INSISTS CARROLL BOY UNRELIABLE WITNESS

Mary McCarty and Janice Haidet
July 1, 1994
Dayton Daily News
       
Speech pathologist Mari-Jo Derkin of Toledo asked Isaiah Carroll 75 questions at St. Elizabeth Medical Center on Thursday, ranging from "Do you like to play hide-and-seek with a blanket?" to "Could you get rich if you invested in the stock market?"

But she never asked Isaiah what happened the night of June 14, 1993 - the night his brother, 12-year-old Josiah Carroll, died at the Cedarville home of their adoptive parents, Timothy and Kathleen Carroll. In closing arguments during a contentious eight-hour hearing in Greene County Juvenile Court on Thursday, county Prosecutor William F. Schenck said the omission arose from "fear of what the answer might be."

But attorneys for the Carroll family said the interview's purpose was to establish Isaiah's reliability as a witness, not to determine what caused Josiah's death.

At issue is whether the Carroll family can resume visits with Isaiah, 11, and whether the county Children Services Board should get emergency custody of another youngster and permanent custody of Isaiah and another handicapped sibling.

All are in question because of Isaiah's interviews in December and June with two other speech pathologists, Jill Jump of Cincinnati and Dr. James McDonald of Columbus. Isaiah, who cannot speak, answers questions by shaking his head yes or no or by glances and body movements.

McDonald and Jump testified Thursday that Isaiah told them he saw his older brother, James, "hurt" Josiah with a pillow or a blanket on the night of his death. Isaiah's regular speech therapist, Diane Dynes, testified that Isaiah rejected James and refused to greet him during one of their sessions.

Derkin, who the Carroll family asked to interview Isaiah, said she didn't want to subject Isaiah to the stress of questions he isn't competent to answer.

"There's no reason to instill the hurt and fear and intimidation I have seen in the videotapes of the other interviews," she said. "My questions were designed to show if he is reliable and consistent in the here and now."

After her testimony, Derkin said she is "emotionally invested in the Carroll family."

"I have met James and there is no shred of doubt in my mind that he could not have been involved."

Derkin, who conducts workshops for the Christian Home Educators of Ohio, testified, "(Isaiah's) responses are not reliable for a variety of reasons."

She said Isaiah, who has cerebral palsy and who suffered brain damage as an infant, sometimes makes involuntary motions that could be misconstrued as a "response" to a question.

Meanwhile, McDonald, who heads a program on communication disorders at Ohio State University in Columbus, said Isaiah "knows a lot of things about the past and present."

He said, the youth "showed quite a bit of fear about the name, 'James'. . . . He is a bright, creative, wonderful little boy who's scared to death to go back to the home . . . with James there."

Visiting Judge Richard T. Cole said he will review videotapes on Tuesday of Derkin's interview, as well as the two conducted by McDonald and Jump.

Schenck begged Cole to conduct his own investigation, with Dynes as the interviewer.

"It is very troubling to me that the parents will not even consider the possibility that their children were homicide victims, even though one expert witness after another supports that possibility."

Carroll attorney John Rion argued that Schenck acted in contempt of the Carrolls' court-ordered visitation rights. "The Carroll family won't quit because they are driven by their love and their faith. They won't quit until their family is reunited."

Prosecutors and family attorneys concurred on only one issue: that the judge's ruling would affect any future criminal prosecution in the death of Josiah Carroll, 12, the last of four suspicious deaths to strike the family of 10 adopted youngsters with physical or developmental problems.

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