The Shakopee day care provider on trial for allegedly inflicting life-threatening injuries on a 6-month-old baby in September 2017 continued today, when prosecutors called a daycare professional and child abuse doctor to the stand.
Laurie Ann Gregor, 55, is charged with first-degree assault, malicious punishment of a child and malicious punishment of a child under the age of 4. The child was diagnosed with a fractured skull, bruised legs, brain bleeding and retinal hemorrhaging. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and a $60,000 fine.
Gregor’s attorney Mark McDonough told jurors on the first day of trial, July 10, the child's injuries were the result of a horrible accident in which the baby fell. Prosecutors allege the child's injuries are inconsistent with a typical fall, and more consistent with abusive head trauma.
The state called Michelle Herzog, a licensed Scott County day care provider and a training coordinator of 18 years, to the stand. Herzog told jurors all licensed day care providers in Scott County must become CPR certified and undergo abusive head trauma training.
She said if an infant has difficulty breathing or is unresponsive, providers are trained to gently tap the baby and call 911. Assistant Scott County Attorney Deb Lund then showed a training video all licensed daycare providers in Scott County are required to watch about “shaken baby syndrome.” According to the video, shaken baby syndrome can cause bleeding to the brain when blood vessels tear, resulting in serious brain damage and death.
Prosecutors showed Gregor signed into a day care provider training session where she would have watched that video on Jan. 25, 2016.
“It's never OK to shake a baby,” the video said, as tears fell from parents Brendan and Crystal McNally's eyes. Their son was injured in the case at issue.
Assistant Scott County Attorney Suzanne Brown also called to the stand Nancy Harper, a pediatrician who specializes in child abuse in Minnesota who saw the McNallys' child when he was admitted to Hennepin Healthcare on Dec. 14.
Harper said the child's injuries were not consistent with a short fall. She said bruises on babies not yet old enough to crawl or walk are often red flags that could ultimately lead to a diagnosis of abusive trauma, because “if you're too young to cruise, you're too young to bruise.”
“Babies aren't more fragile (than adults)," Harper said. “They don't bruise more easily... we know patterns of injury based on age and abilities.”
Brown then showed photos Harper took at the hospital of the child's injuries, which included several bruises on the arms and legs. The photos showed red and purple dots on the legs, as well as parallel bruises. Harper said when she sees parallel bruises, it can be evidence of grip marks or a blow with the hand. At the time of the child's injuries, he was unable to crawl or walk.
“In this case I was concerned with a grip mark,” she said.
Harper said the baby's head injuries would not be consistent with a three-foot fall. The prosecutor presented photos of the Gregors' kitchen and living room area and asked Harper whether the baby's skull fracture could be consistent with a head slammed on the carpet, counter or end table.
“Yes,” Harper said. “You just don't see literature published that describes these falls in depth and have them associated with hemorrhages... It's a rare event.”
In Harper's original doctor's note, she wrote the child's injuries were most consistent with abusive head trauma.
“We knew this was a child that had sustained whiplash as well as an impact event,” she said.