exposing the dark side of adoption
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Photos reveal battered body


Photos reveal battered body


Joseph Ciambrone held his head in his hands Friday morning as prosecutors unveiled for the first time a pair of life-sized, color photos of the scarred and battered body of his 7-year-old adopted son, Lucas.

The ex-musician and foster father, charged with first-degree murder in the 1995 death of Lucas, also shook his head in apparent protest when attorneys said a world-renowned child abuse expert will testify that Lucas was sexually tortured.

""Joe's reaction was due to the graphic nature,'' Charles Williams, Ciambrone's attorney, later said. ""He still loves his son, and he could not bear to see the photographs because they were too painful for him to watch. These were the natural feelings a parent would have seeing photographs of his deceased son.''

Ciambrone faces life in prison if convicted by a jury chosen Thursday. Jurors will hear opening statements at 9 a.m. Monday. Prosecutors will allege that 23 acts of child abuse over two years or more led to Lucas' death.

The presentation of the graphic photos, which trial judge Gilbert Smith had never seen, was only one of several sensitive issues tackled by attorneys as they made final preparations for the trial during Friday's hearing.

The case is so emotionally explosive that defense attorneys asked for a direct order from Smith that prosecution witnesses be told to keep their feelings in check while on the stand.

Assistant State Attorney Deno Economou argued against the order but promised to inform his witnesses before they appeared publicly that they must guard against emotional displays.

At the start of Friday's hearing, Ciambrone appeared calm and collected. But when prosecutors Greg Hagopian and Jeff Quisenberry unveiled the photographs, he quickly turned his head.

He remained turned away, head cradled in his hands, during the entire argument on the matter, which lasted about 10 minutes.

Economou told Smith that the photos would demonstrate the child's size when he died: 32 pounds, 41 inches tall.

Lucas had the bone growth of a 4-year-old when he died, Economou said. The photos depict injuries to the child's body that prosecutors will allege resulted from years of abuse at the hands of Ciambrone and his wife, Heather.

Smith, after viewing the photos from the bench, denied the defense request to bar them. He also turned down a request that testimony about accusations of sexual abuse be barred.

Dr. Elliot Newberger, who made headlines in the Massachusetts murder trial of British au pair Louise Woodward, told prosecutors that marks on the boy's penis may have been caused by a knife, scissors or human teeth.

Dr. Joan Wood, the Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Lucas, did not indicate sexual abuse.

1997 Dec 6