Expert: Child suffered head trauma

Relates to:
Date: 2010-08-25
Source: Forsyth News

By Julie Arrington
Staff Writer
juliearrington@forsythnews.com

UPDATED Aug. 25, 2010 9 a.m.
Closing arguments set in murder trial

An expert witness testified Monday that the February 2009 death of a toddler at a Catalina Drive home was caused by blunt force trauma to the head.

Christopher Brian Gilreath, 41, is on trial in connection with the beating death of 2-year-old Joshua Pinckney, the adopted son of Gilreath’s former girlfriend.

The defense and prosecution are expected to give closing arguments Wednesday.

Gilreath’s attorney, John Rife, argued Tuesday morning that the prosecution had failed to prove its case and requested a judgment in his client’s favor. Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley denied the motion.

The defense rested without giving an opening statement or presenting any testimony.

Gilreath and Miriam Pinckney, 41, were indicted in November for felony murder and cruelty to children for failing to provide medical treatment to the child.

Pinckney pleaded guilty Aug. 4 and is currently serving a five-year prison sentence.

Gilreath was also charged with murder, an additional count of felony murder, aggravated battery, an additional count of cruelty to children and possession of cocaine.

If convicted on the murder charges, Gilreath will receive a mandatory life sentence.

Miriam Pinckney testified last week that she found her son dead the morning of Feb. 13, 2009, after having left him and his younger adopted sister in Gilreath’s care the day before while she was at work in Atlanta.

Lora Darrisaw, deputy chief medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified Monday that she performed the autopsy on the boy’s body.

She said the examination, conducted on Feb. 14, 2009, revealed multiple bruises on the child’s body and face. While examining his skull, evidence was found of at least five to six blows to the head.

“This is all pretty much unequivocal evidence of an assault,” Darrisaw said.

She testified that there was blood on the boy’s brain, that it was swollen and that the injuries likely occurred eight to 10 hours before he died.

While she was unable to provide an exact time of death, she said he likely died four to 12 hours before he was found.

Darrisaw said the child’s death was the result of “blunt force injuries to the head.”

Pinckney previously testified that she came home for lunch Feb. 12 and Gilreath told her the child was taking a nap. She said the boy was sound asleep.

Later that day, she said, Gilreath told her that her son “must’ve fallen.”

When she returned home from work about 5:45 p.m., the boy was asleep and in the same position on the same bed as he was at lunch. She said he had a bruise on his cheek and a scrape on his chin.

She testified that she put the child to bed that night and the last time she saw him awake was Feb. 11, 2009.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s investigators testified that three metal pipes, commonly used for smoking crack cocaine, were found in a cigar box in the trash behind the house.

Mary Jo Brasher, a forensic toxicologist for the GBI, testified that Gilreath’s urine tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, but Miriam Pinckney’s tests were negative.

Dagny Brogdon, a GBI forensic chemist, testified that two of the “crack pipes” tested positive for cocaine, but she could not determine how old the substance was.

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