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Older brain injuries considered during Shane murder trial

WORTHINGTON -- Friday's testimony of Dr. Daniel Crosby, a neuroradiologist from Sioux Falls, S.D. brought up the suggestion there may have been previous injury to the brain of Ashanta Chavarria, the 3-month-old baby that died as the result of massive brain injury in November 2004.

Chavarria's mother, Lisa Shane, 20, of Adrian, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of child neglect after an autopsy report ruled the death a homicide due to child abuse.

The first week of testimony contained medical expert opinion from doctors and nurses involved in the care of the child both before and after Oct. 28, 2004, when she was brought into the emergency room by Shane. Ashanta died approximately one week later after life support was terminated.

Crosby, who read and interpreted the MRI and CT scans of the baby's head after she was admitted to the hospital, said he saw numerous injuries including cranial hemorrhage, bleeding in the brain and blood outside the brain.

Assistant Attorney General William Klumpp mentioned the healing rib fractures that were found on the baby, and asked if there was any evidence of brain injuries that may have occurred before Oct. 28. Crosby explained acute blood -- which is more recent bleeding -- and sub-acute blood, which can be older. He said the density of the blood implied varying ages.

When asked by Klumpp if he could say there was an older injury to the brain with a degree of certainty, Crosby said he could not.

"There is a difference of age, but age could be a matter of hours, days or months," he explained. "The sub-acute blood was probably several days old, or more likely, weeks or perhaps months."

Ashanta's primary care physician while in the intensive care unit at Sioux Valley Hospital, Dr. Melanie Madsen testified the injuries to the baby were "devastating and there was nothing that could be done."

Madsen said she had a conference with Shane Nov. 4 about the baby's condition, and was informed the next day Shane wished to withdraw life support.

"We removed the breathing tube and catheters so the mother could hold the baby," she said.

When Klumpp asked Madsen about previous injuries to the head, Madsen said according to radiology there was evidence of older injuries, both in the bone fractures and bleeding around the brain. Under cross-examination by Chief Public Defender James Fleming, she couldn't say with certainty whether the older brain injury was a fact.

"I will defer to a radiologist on that," she said.

When asked how much contact Madsen had with Shane, Madsen said it was limited mostly to explaining Ashanta's injuries and what the options were.

"The odds were she would not survive her injuries," Madsen explained. "And if, by some small chance, she did, she would be neurologically devastated."

Testimony will continue at 9 a.m. Monday.