This article originally appeared on Go Erie by Tim Hahn on August 26th, 2016
A pediatrician who heads the Child Advocacy Center at a Pittsburgh hospital testified Thursday morning that a 4-month-old boy brought to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in late February was unresponsive and on a ventilator while being treated for severe head injuries when she first saw him.
Draven Taylor died in July after he was taken off life support at the hospital.
Rachel Berger, M.D., outlined Draven Taylor’s injuries, which included a skull fracture, subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages — the only mechanism known for causing the hemorrhages, she said, is violent shaking or crushing — as she testified during the preliminary hearing for Draven’s father, 21-year-old Nathan A. Taylor, on homicide and other charges.
Springfield Township District Judge Chris MacKendrick held Taylor, of Lake City, for trial on all of the charges following Thursday morning’s hearing. Taylor remains in the Erie County Prison without bond in the case. The charges were filed by the Lake City Police Department.
Berger said Draven was “really as sick as you can be” when he was brought to Children’s Hospital from UPMC Hamot on Feb. 20, and the medical staff was providing “maximum support” for the boy.
She said she spoke to Taylor and the child’s mother at the hospital, and the parents told her Draven was a completely normal and healthy child before he was brought to the hospital on the early afternoon of Feb. 20. She said she was told the mother left Draven and a 16-month-old child with Taylor when she went to the store, and that while she was gone Taylor heard Draven making noises and tried to call the mother, but her cellphone died. When the mother came home, she knew immediately that something was wrong with Draven and called 911, Berger testified.
Berger also said under questioning by Erie First Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz that the child would have shown signs of being injured immediately after the injury occurred. When asked by Hirz what the cause of Draven’s injuries were, Berger said they were the result of physical abuse and abusive head trauma.
Berger said under cross-examination by Taylor’s lawyer, Eric Hackwelder, that she did not review the records of the child’s primary care physician, but did confirm with the physician later that Draven was a healthy child. She also said she did not record her interview with Draven’s parents or take extensive notes.
Hirz entered into evidence copies of the coroner’s report on Draven’s death and a draft autopsy report, which she said found that the boy died from complications of blunt-force trauma. The death was ruled homicide, she said.
Hackwelder argued after testimony that the charges against Taylor should be dismissed because no direct evidence was presented showing that anyone caused the injuries to the child. Hirz argued that, according to the pediatrician’s testimony, the child would have been symptomatic immediately after injury.