Jurors view pictures of dead boy's injuries

Relates to:
Date: 2007-08-28
Source: caller.com

Jurors view pictures of dead boy's injuries

August 28, 2007
Mary Ann Cavazos

Jurors in the capital murder trial of Hannah Overton were shown photos of 4-year-old Andrew Burd's injured body Monday.

Overton, 30, is accused of forcing the boy to drink a mixture of water and Cajun spices as punishment on Oct. 2.

Dr. Alexandre Rotta, who continued his testimony from Friday, recalled the widespread scratches he saw on Andrew when the boy was admitted to Driscoll Children's Hospital that day.

Ulcerated lesions on one of his hands, bruises to his knee, face, chest and buttocks, along with sores on one of his elbows, were depicted in the photos.

Andrew died the next day.

"There were so many bruises and scratches it would have been difficult to describe them all," Rotta said, adding that photos made documenting the injuries easier.

Overton and her 31-year-old husband, Larry Overton, are charged with capital murder. They were in the process of adopting Andrew through Spaulding for Children.

Some of the areas on Andrew's body with scratches were unlikely to be self-inflicted, Rotta said.

Defense attorneys argued that bruises on his face and chest could have come from performing CPR, bruises on his knee could have been from injecting needles for IV fluids and sores on his elbow were from mosquito bites he had scratched repeatedly.

Rotta, who was the only witness to take the stand Monday, testified it would have taken 23 teaspoons of Zatarain's Creole Seasoning to reach the toxic level of sodium in Andrew's system. A 17-ounce container of that same brand was found at the Overtons' house.

But defense attorneys proposed the high level of sodium may have been caused by fluids injected into Andrew's body by medical staff. Rotta countered it would have had to have been an enormous amount for that to be possible.

Both Rotta and a hospital social worker have said Overton told them she gave Andrew a glass of water with chili powder in it after he threw a fit.

During Monday's testimony Rotta recounted the other possibilities he ruled out for the high sodium level, including forms of diabetes, dehydration, an eating disorder and ingestion of soap.

Defense attorneys argued that only a specialist in diagnosing various forms of diabetes or the eating disorder known as pica, where a person eats odd substances, was qualified to rule those out.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today in 214th District Judge Jose Longoria's courtroom.

Contact Mary Ann Cavazos at 886-3643 or cavazosm@caller.com


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