Expert testifies for defendant in Lee case

By Joe Gorman


Judge John Durkin will render a decision today in the bench trial of a man accused of killing his infant daughter.

Testimony in the case ended Wednesday as a forensic pathologist testified on behalf of 23-year-old Evan Lee, who is accused of murdering his 4-month-old daughter last May.

Dr. Karl Williams, chief medical examiner in Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, testified in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that physicians and coroners did not delve into other reasons why Ila Lee died.

Dr. Williams said that from an examination of records, there were no injuries on the baby that would explain her dying in a violent way, and that she also had medical problems before she died.

Evan Lee is charged with murder, two counts of child endangering and felonious assault in his daughter’s death May 13, 2013, inside their home on Woodside Avenue.

Lee has eschewed a jury trial and instead opted for a bench trial before Judge Durkin. Testimony began Monday.

Dr. Williams said that from reviewing medical records and police reports, the two main theories of the case are that the baby died of a “whiplash” type injury that damaged her brain or was either struck with a hard object or against a hard object, which caused the brain injury that ultimately caused her death.

Dr. Williams said the baby’s injuries to her brain could have been caused by a lack of oxygen. When police were called to the house the day she died, she already was not breathing.

“It does not take an act of violence to create these findings,” Dr. Williams said.

Dr. Williams also said records showed the baby had potential problems with her liver and clotting in her brain. He said there was a small amount of blood in her brain when the autopsy was performed. But he said that blood may have been the cause of her death because it was toxic and was not there because of a traumatic event, such as shaking or being hit with something.

A doctor who treated the baby at St. Elizabeth Health Center said her injuries were caused by “violent, whiplash shaking,” but Dr. Williams said there were no marks or any evidence on the baby’s torso to suggest someone held her and shook her.

“Somehow, this child has to be squeezed with no telltale marks,” he said.

Bruises on the baby’s skull were small in nature and could not have caused the injury that led to her death, Dr. Williams said. He said similar bruises sometimes are found on infants who die of sudden infant death syndrome.

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