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Jury finds Jackson woman not guilty of child endangerment
In less than 15 minutes of deliberation Wednesday, a jury acquitted a Jackson woman of causing severe head trauma to a 6-month-old girl.
Tracy Poston, charged with first-degree child endangerment, testified Wednesday that she never harmed or shook the daughter of Spencer and Kayla Hobeck while she was at her day care.
Poston operated the child care facility out of her home at 2935 State Highway 25.
After having a seizure at Poston's day care March 28, 2008, the infant was diagnosed with having an acute bleed on her brain and two older subdural hemorrhages, symptoms two doctors testified to Tuesday that are consistent with shaken infant syndrome.
"It's something I won't ever forget," Poston told jurors. "She was clearly pale, and her arms were incredibly stiff. I had no idea what it was; I just knew something was really wrong."
Upon hearing the verdict, Poston embraced her husband, daughter and son.
"We are very pleased with the verdict," said Stephen C. Wilson, Poston's attorney. "We think this case was misdirected early on in the medical opinions and not enough information was given by law enforcement to the medical people so they could have made appropriate decisions."
Poston had no comment on the verdict and left the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse with her family.
As a day care provider for 15 years in Cape Girardeau County, Poston told jurors she was experienced in caring for newborns and would typically care for the same children for several years. Poston said that when she started caring for Addison Hobeck at around 10 weeks of age, the baby was healthy. Poston noticed a change in Addison after she returned to her care in 2009, after New Year's.
"She was not as eager to eat," Poston said. "She did sleep more than a normal baby, but I attributed that to her mom saying she wasn't sleeping well at night."
In addition, Addison was apt to catching colds and fevers, which is why Poston said on several occasions she had to have someone pick the infant up and take her home, a procedure she put in place to keep other children from getting sick.
She confirmed testimony given Tuesday by Kayla Hobeck that Addison was taken out of her care two days before the seizure and taken to see a doctor due to a fever.
Poston said Addison was crying and acting "fussy" when Kayla Hobeck dropped her off around 8 a.m. March 28. She said she woke Addison twice to feed her but that the infant continued to act sleepy and lethargic.
"She would just not wake up to eat. She just did not want to be awake," Poston said.
Cape Girardeau County detective Jamie Malugen, the last witness called by the prosecution Wednesday, testified he was told by Poston in an interview Addison was acting unusually sleepy March 28 while in her care. The information, he said, when questioned by Wilson, wasn't relayed to medical personnel involved in treating Addison.
"The significance of that is it should have been told to the medical people," Wilson said in his closing statements to the jury. "Why wasn't it passed on?"
Additional comments were heard from a pediatric neurologist from Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, who gave his testimony March 19 because he couldn't be in trial this week. Jurors heard Harvey Cantor's testimony in the courtroom via a video.
Cantor said he reviewed all of Addison's medical records and depositions prepared by doctors who testified in Poston's case Tuesday. He did not need to examine the child, he testified, to determine the child had been abused and suffered multiple bleeds on her brain. It could have been shaken baby syndrome, he added, but it's not medically possible to determine when the shaking occurred, disagreeing with statements Dr. Ann DiMaio, a pediatrician at Cardinal Glennon, made in court Tuesday.
DiMaio said the newest bleed had to have occurred as a result of head trauma within three days of the seizure, but believed it to have occurred within one hour of the seizure.
"Those times are not linked by medical literature," Cantor said. "It is not medically possible to place a time on an event that caused this accumulation of blood over the surface of the brain."