The doctor used circumstances outside of the medical field to support her conclusion, the defense says.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Attorneys representing a Niles woman accused of killing her children 30 years ago want a judge to limit the testimony of the prosecutor's expert medical witness and to dismiss some of the charges.
James Lewis and Anthony Consoldane of the Ohio Public Defender's Commission asked Judge Andrew Logan on Tuesday to set a hearing to discuss the latest motions in Gloria Greenfield's case.
The judge scheduled an Aug. 6 hearing.
Greenfield, 52, of Robbins Avenue, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
She is accused of killing her three infant children: Melissa in 1969, Theodore II in 1970 and Regina Woods in 1971.
Greenfield has pleaded innocent.
At the times of their deaths, the coroner ruled the children died of natural causes.
The Trumbull County Coroner's office changed the causes of death earlier this year: Regina and Theodore's are now being attributed to asphyxia and Melissa's is listed as undetermined. All three have been ruled homicides.
Greenfield also is charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill, accused of trying to kill another daughter, Gloria Bennight, when Bennight was 44 days old and again when she was 80 days old.
Expert witness in question
Lewis and Consoldane, however, state in the motion that the prosecutor's expert witness, Dr. Janice Ophoven, should not be allowed to testify in regard to the cause of death's being asphyxia by suffocation of the Woods children.
The motion further states that the doctor should be prohibited from confusing the jury with "junk science."
The motion states that Dr. Ophoven's report is a "restatement of all of the medical facts present in all of the autopsy reports of the children" that were compiled at the time of their deaths.
"There are no new medical facts or findings," the motion states. "Dr. Ophoven extrapolates lay facts and circumstances outside of the medical field to support her conclusion that the deaths of the children were homicide.
Dr. Ophoven takes into account such lay facts and circumstances entirely outside the medical field, such as: so-called suspicious maternal behavior, contradictory stories to family members and authorities, family members suspicious of foul play, and so forth."
Opinion called 'guesswork'
The attorneys further state that Dr. Ophoven's opinion is based upon "conjecture and guesswork."
"The medical expert for the state of Ohio is saying that it has to be murder simply because it is unusual to have multiple infant deaths in one family," the motion states.
Chris Becker, an assistant county prosecutor assigned to the case, was not available to comment.
Lewis and Consoldane also said that the two assault charges filed against Greenfield should be dismissed because the law mandates that all felonies, other than murder, must be tried within a six-year period.
The motion states that according to the indictment the assaults took place April 25, 1972, and May 31, 1972.