Examiner says adopted boy was healthy

Relates to:
Date: 2003-12-11

Doctor testifies extent of boy's injuries "doesn't spell accidental'


A 5-year-old boy who died about six weeks after a Franklin couple adopted him from Russia was healthy when he arrived in the United States, Gloucester County's medical examiner testified Wednesday.

And the head injuries from which Jacob Lindorff died led authorities to classify his death as homicide resulting from child abuse, Dr. Gerald Feigin said.

When all of Jacob's injuries are considered, "back and front, old and new, it doesn't spell accidental anymore,' said Feigin, who performed an autopsy on the child's body after he died on Dec. 14, 2001.

Feigin's testimony came on the sixth day of a trial for Heather and James Lindorff, who adopted Jacob and five other Russian-born children.

Heather Lindorff, 37, is charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, child endangerment and child neglect. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison.

James Lindorff, 54, is charged with fourth-degree neglect. They are being tried together.

Defense attorneys contend Jacob was abused by his biological mother or at the orphanage where he lived before his adoption. Jacob's biological mother sometimes slammed the boy's head on the floor as punishment and he may have been teased by others because he "walked funny,' they've argued.

Feigns said there was evidence of two instances of bleeding on Jacob's brain.

But the older of the two incidents occurred less than six weeks before he died, Feigin said. The second -- which caused the initial wound to bleed again, swelling the brain -- occurred within a day or two of his death, Feigin said.

"I saw a video of him in Russia,' Feigin said. "He was fully mobile and walked around like a healthy child . . . I believe he was real healthy (and had) no brain injuries when he came to this country.'

In addition to the fatal head injury and eye hemorrhaging also attributed to head trauma, Feigin noted fresh burns on Jacob's feet, healed burns on his back and bruises on his head and torso.

In extensive cross-examination by defense lawyers, Feigin said he relied on a prosecutor's summary for a history of Jacob's life in Russia. He might have changed his opinion on the cause of some injuries if told more about Jacob's abusive Russian mother, he said.

Feigin also acknowledged that anemia could slow the healing of bruises, but added a postmortem report that indicated Jacob had anemia was unreliable.

Heather Lindorff gave a four-hour statement to investigators -- played for the jury last week -- in which she denied physically abusing her son. She said the boy threw temper tantrums and often played with water temperature controls in the bathtub, resulting in accidental burns.

Reach Bernie Weisenfeld at (856) 251-3345 or bweisenfeld@courierpost online.com


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