Clerk says mom told her boy fell from bunk bed

Date: 1994-09-03
Source: Deseret News

Clerk says mom told her boy fell from bunk bed

When Darlene Bright came into the FHP Hospital, she laid her 3-year-old son on the Formica desktop, stepped back and told the admitting clerk the boy was unresponsive.

"She thought he had fallen out of his bunk bed," Susan Nakamura testified Friday."She was saying he's always falling down and hurting himself, that they were going to blame her for this."

A judge said Friday he had heard enough evidence to believe Bright was to blame for her son's death and ordered her to stand trial for murder.

An assistant medical examiner said the injuries that eventually killed Kameron Bright could not have been caused from any fall off of a bunk bed.

"Falls less than 10 feet produce fairly benign injuries," said Dr. Edward Leis. He said the boy would have had to fall several stories to receive such injuries or possibly was shaken followed by a severe blow to the head.

But the only injuries his mother ever described were bumps and possible falls from a bunk bed.

Nurse Paula Gates said Bright also told her the boy had fallen out of bed a few hours before after fighting with his older brother and sister. She said the boy had been limp and unresponsive for the past two hours. But she later told police her son had "bumped his head" that evening and had actually fallen out of the bunk bed two or three weeks earlier.

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During interviews with West Valley police detective Welby Scott, Bright said her husband and three children returned home about 10 p.m. on April 2. Kameron came upstairs complaining that his head hurt. His mother said she gave him an icepack and put him to bed.

She heard Kameron whimpering later that night, gave him Tylenol and slept next to him in a makeshift bed in the family room. When she woke up at 2 a.m., she noticed the child was unconscious, Welby said.

Bright told the detective she had not disciplined Kameron that evening but later said she had spanked him following a dispute with her other children. Two days later, Welby confronted her with information about another spanking and she admitted spanking Kameron that night because he had wet his pants.

Leis testified that Kameron suffered a skull fracture more than 8 inches long, suffered blood deposits between the brain and skull and also had retinal hemorrhaging in his eyes. There was also evidence that the fracture had been there "at least a few weeks" and had been recently re-injured.

Defense attorney Ron Yengich asked questions implying that the older fracture from a fall or a fight with older siblings may have actually led to the boy's death.

Gates said that during her three years of nursing, she has never seen a parent react to a crisis situation as did Darlene Bright. Unlike Bright, she said 99 percent of the time parents can't keep away from children they bring into the emergency room and won't put them down.

Nakamura, an admitting clerk, said Bright seemed "aloof" after placing the boy on the counter and never conveyed an urgency for them to help her child.

"I think she said his brother just died in January and these things just always happen to him or to me," Nakamura said.

But under cross examination, Nakamura and Gates admitted that people react differently to stressful situations.

Leis said that because Kameron suffered "two major severe injuries," he could have diagnosed him as a victim of battered child syndrome. Leis did not, however, because of a lack of other old injuries.

Third Circuit Judge Philip Palmer entered a not-guilty plea for Bright and ordered her to appear Oct. 14 before 3rd District Judge Pat Brian.

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