Doctor: Baby's death a 'textbook' case

Date: 2006-06-23

Author: Ruth Ann Krause, Post-Tribune correspondent

Luke Evans was a textbook case of shaken baby syndrome, a University of Chicago pediatrician testified Wednesday.

Dr. Jill Glick, testifying at the murder trial of Luke's adoptive mother, Natalie Fabian Evans, 36, said Luke's CT scan showed severe brain swelling and bleeding between the skull and the brain. Those conditions, coupled with his dilated and unresponsive pupils, his loss of consciousness and seizures, all point to a deliberately inflicted brain injury through shaken-baby syndrome.

Glick is the medical director of the University of Chicago Hospitals' child-protection team.

Questioned by Deputy Prosecutor Kathleen O'Halloran, Glick said the severe injuries she documented on the 16-month-old child adopted from Russia would not have been caused from a short-distance fall. She likened it to a prizefighter punching an opponent with a quick right to the chin, causing the head to spin in the opposite direction with great force.

Evans told paramedics and Lake County police who arrived at her Lowell home on Nov. 29, 2001, that she couldn't wake Luke. She said took him into the bathroom to splash water on him and he hit his head on the tub.

Glick said when a baby is shaken violently, the brain rocks back and forth and side to side within the skull, causing damage to blood vessels and nerves around the brain.

Glick ruled out that Luke could have been injured when he was tossed up in the air and caught.

Glick described the brain injury as acute, meaning it was a new injury a few hours old.

Evans told police her estranged husband, Steve, rocked Luke to sleep on Nov. 28, 2001. He got up at about 3 a.m. to leave for work, and she got up at about 6:15 a.m. to get ready for work, went into Luke's room at about 7:30 a.m. and couldn't wake him.

Glick said Luke Evans had no bruises on his body, a typical finding for most victims of shaken baby syndrome.

Also testifying was Lake County Police Sgt. John Gruszka, who spoke with Evans at St. Anthony Medical Center, where Luke was initially taken before being transferred to University of Chicago. Gruszka said he found two drops of water in the bathtub, along with a bottle of baby shampoo.

Responding to a juror's question, Glick said with the hands in that position on the child's torso, the force of the shaking is transferred to the neck.

During cross-examination by defense attorney T. Edward Page, Glick said typically a baby who has shaken baby syndrome is held under the armpits and shaken violently. The weakness of the child's neck muscles cause the head to flop in all directions while the arms and legs flail helplessly, Glick said.

Evans told him that as she sat Luke in the bathtub to try to revive him, she reached with her right hand to turn on the faucet and his head jerked back suddenly, causing him to fall backwards. Afterward, she took him into the kitchen, tried to feed him, then dressed him and called 911.

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