The doctor who conducted the autopsy on a four-year-old girl who died of complications from severe malnutrition testified at her caregivers’ murder trial in Regina today.
Tammy and Kevin Goforth are facing a second degree murder charge in her death, as well as a charge of causing bodily harm to her two-year-old sister. The Goforths were the children’S legal guardians at the time in 2012.
A forensic pathologist was the final witness for the prosecution in the trial.
Dr. Shaun Ladham testified he believes tape around the little girl’s wrists and ankle were responsible for skin abrasions he examined during the autopsy.
He also said there was previous scarring of a similiar nature, saying it would have been weeks or even months old. He said the evidence indicates a repetitive-type of injury.
On cross-examination, he conceded the abrasions could have been caused by taping socks over the girl’s hands.
Ladham carefully led the jury through his findings. First, he said the girl died from lack of oxygen to her brain brought on by cardiac arrest. Severe malnutrition and dehydration were listed as the underlying cause.
Ladham said there was no evidence of sexual abuse of the victim, a finding contrary to the testimony of Dr. Sharon Leibel who took the witness stand on Monday. She examined the girl shortly after she was admitted to hospital on August 1, 2012. Dr. Leibel testified she found injury to the genital area, including a small tear.
In a statement of facts, both the defence and prosecution agreed that neither of the Goforths sexually assaulted either of the two girls.
They were the legal guardians of the children for about nine months when both girls had to be rushed to hospital in dire condition during the summer of 2012. It was too late to save the four-year-old. She was declared brain dead and taken off life support after two days. Her sister recovered. They were were grossly underweight and were described as skin over wasted muscle and bones.
Ladham told the trial the four-year-old weighed 27 lbs., which was 25 per cent less than she weighed two years earlier.
The defence will begin its case Thursday morning. It plans to call four witnesses. Tammy and Kevin Goforth are expected to testify in their own defence.