exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

The Craver trial: In the participants own words


By Ricky Lee

York, PA - Notable statements made by participants in order of when they spoke during the nine-day trial.

"That day began the countdown to the end of his life. The defendants have used Nathaniel's background ... to cover what was really going on."" -- Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker in opening statements.

"The Cravers were desperately seeking answers." -- Michael Craver's attorney, Clasina Mahoney, in opening statements.

"It's not going to be a happy day." -- Nanette Craver's attorney Jerry Lord in opening statements predicting the jury will have to acquit.

"His head, to me, felt like a wet sponge." -- Christopher Penney, Holy Spirit Hospital emergency room nurse.

"He presented as a young, frail boy. Pale, with a markedly swollen head, barely breathing." -- Dr. Nicholas J.T. Baran, Holy Spirit Hospital emergency room doctor.

"The prognosis was poor... He never regained consciousness." -- Dr. Mark Iantosca, Hershey Medical Center neurosurgeon who operated on Nathaniel.

"Mr. Craver blurted out, this came out of nowhere, that he feared this day would come." -- Sgt. John Schreiner, Carroll Township Police Department.

"Oh, head to toe." -- Susan Kelly, a York County Children, Youth and Families child abuse investigator when asked if there were any marks on Nathaniel's body.

"And I don't mean just a little bit of swelling. The entire skull and head looked like a watermelon." -- Dr. Wayne Ross, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy and ruled the death a homicide.

"His body literally being starved during that time period." -- Ross, testifying on Nathaniel's last six weeks of life.

"I turned to the officer (witnessing the autopsy) and said, 'This case needs to be pursued from the aspect of abuse by another person.'" -- Ross.

"No, I would have reported it and confronted them." -- Dr. Andrew Bloschichak, a family physician and Nanette Craver's brother-in-law, on whether he suspected child abuse.

"They asked me to watch them and see if they injured themselves in any way." -- Lori Ferree, the foster parent who cared for the Craver children after they were removed from the home by CYF.

"He would pinch himself when he didn't know the answer." -- Rande Fregm, a Catholic Charities caseworker who observed Nanette Craver home-schooling Nathaniel.

"That's when we started the Prozac." -- Dr. Jeffrey Hermann, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who treated Nathaniel, when asked what he did when he was told Nathaniel pulled out two of his teeth, one a permanent tooth.

"He was a healthy-looking boy playing with this sister." -- Dr. Tapash Sengupta, the first pediatrician the Cravers took Nathaniel Elizabeth to after their adoption.

"She pushed Nathaniel away and kind of blew a kiss over Elizabeth's head." -- Sandra Adkins, Michael Craver's aunt, recalling the children asking their mother for kisses as she left for work.

"I guess we weren't supposed to ask." -- Sandra Craver, Michael Craver's mother, describing his response when she inquired about Nathaniel's swollen head months before his death.

"I didn't know what to think. He looked like a little monster." -- Robert Craver, Michael Craver's father, recalling seeing Nathaniel months before his death.

"I had a concern when I talked with her... that she had twins, typically active 3-year-olds... she seemed surprised ay how busy their life was." -- Susan Root, a teacher at Rainbow Hill Pre school, commenting on Nanette Craver.

"Nathaniel always came to school very neat... new clothes." -- Elaine Fisher, a teacher at Rainbow Hill Preschool.

"He was rather clumsy. He would trip over his own little feet as he was walking across the classroom." -- Faithe Spurrier, a teacher at Mountainside Preschool.

"Things did not seem painful to him. We never saw him cry." -- Amy Zook, director and teacher at Mountainside Preschool.

"Alcohol, of all the negative factors ... is the one that packs the most harmful effect." -- Dr. Richard Adler, an expert on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

"He knew how to push his mother's buttons and bring her to the breaking point." -- Laura Miller, attachment and trauma therapist at the Institute for Children and Families.

"Attachment therapy is a long therapy that deals with core issues, the core of who you are and what you believe of the world." -- Dr. Lark Eshleman, founder of ICF.

"If an adult did this, you would expect a serious intracranial injury long before he did." -- Dr. Jonathan Briskin, a forensic pathologist, giving his opinion why the Cravers did not inflict the serious head injury on the 7-year-old.

"She expressed to me that she wished she could find somebody to help him." -- Lisa Juliana, a co-worker of Nanette Craver's.

"What I determined, from the evidence we have, you cannot possibly rule out an accidental injury." -- Dr. Mariusz Ziejewski, a biomechanics expert.

"I said, 'If the (expletive) DA had done their job, we wouldn't have two innocent people in jail.'" -- Richard D. Hoffman, a lifelong friend of Michael Craver's, explaining why he was uncooperative with the police.

"We heard this bad banging sound. Nathaniel was holding onto the headboard and banging his head. She removed his hands and said, 'No, we don't do that." -- Ruth Hoffman, who said she witnessed Nathaniel's behavior.

"You and he ( Ziejewski) are saying that a 41-to-45 pound child can generate 1,500 pounds of impact force. I don't think so." -- Dr. Michael Woodhouse, president of BioMx, a biomechanics consulting firm in Virginia.

"I've never seen it in 35 years, including children who were institutionalized their entire lives." -- Dr. Annie Steinberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist, when asked if anyone with Reactive Attachment Disorder had caused their own death by abusing themselves.

"Not one witness said they saw Nanette Craver or Michael Craver strike Nathaniel. To be clear, we are not blaming Nathaniel when I say it was his fault. He didn't have a choice about how he came into this world." -- Nanette Craver's attorney Rick Robinson in closing in closing arguments.

"If they had a real suspicion they were abusing those kids, what would you have done as a grandparent? An aunt? You would have taken those kids." -- Robinson.

"He took numbers and plugged them into a computer. The commonwealth wants you to convict them of first-degree murder based on a computer." -- Robinson commenting on Woodhouse's analysis.

"None of us are perfect parents. And children don't come with instruction booklets." -- Michael Craver's attorney Suzanne Smith in closing arguments.

"This is good parenting." -- Smith while informing the jury of Nathaniel's medical and mental health doctor visits.

"They are not on trial for being good parents or bad parents." -- Barker in closing arguments.

"What were some of the first words out of Michael Craver's mouth? 'He self-abuses.'" -- Barker, recalling testimony of what Michael Craver said at Holy Spirit Hospital.

"It could be A, it could be B, it could be C, I don't know." -- Barker commenting on the defense's expert witnesses opinion an accidental death could not be ruled out.

"RAD. It's the home run. RAD made him do it." -- Barker discounting the Cravers' defense.

"The clips... show how sweet and innocent a child he was. Who reached out for a hug first? His 'little buddy.'" -- Barker commenting on videos shown in court.

"Common sense tells you he didn't do it to himself. Common sense tells you they did it to him. And on Aug. 19, (2009) they did it to him again - repeated blows. They murdered their 'little buddy.'" -- Barker.

2011 Sep 17