Day three of the trial of Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak in the death of illegal alien Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA July 2008. Today had some shocking testimony in the case that pointed to the fact that the brain trauma to Ramirez' head was caused by it striking a stationary object from the rear. In other words from him falling and hitting his head rather than a kick to the head as the prosecution claims. This revelation came from prosecution witness, Dr. Daniel Brown, a neuropathologist from Allentown.
(Shenandoah Teen Trial Coverage: Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, My Verdict, Verdict is in!, Shenandoah Rally and Archive)
Other prosecution testimony came from forensic pathologist Barbara Bollinger, Dr. Isadore Mihalakis, forensic pathologist and Warren County medical examiner who examined Bollinger's and Brown's reports and Josh Redmond who was with the boys that night and is the last of the teens to testify.
In his report and testimony Brown did note there was trauma to the left side and stated that there was "a blood clot between his brain and a protective covering, and blood in an area usually containing spinal fluid.". Also that "The left side of his brain had extensive contusions and swelling. No evidence of trauma to the right side of his brain."
Geisinger Medical records show that there was an operation done on the left side of Ramirez' head to relieve pressure. Bollinger's testimony confirms she saw a detached portion of bone on the left side. She also testified that there were two fractures to Ramirez' head and that the one to the back of his head came first.
In following testimony Dr. Brown stated "Because of motion of the brain, an injury to the back of the brain caused an injury to the front. Injuries consistent with a moving head hitting a stationary object."
Bollinger did testify that cause of death was homicide, this is a manner of death, not an indication of guilt. Homicide is deemed the cause of death when it is not from natural causes, self inflicted, accidental or undetermined. Some would pick up on the word homicide and insinuate a guilty verdict from it. This is simply not the case.
In other testimony the defense was allowed to call Arielle Garcia, who was with her husband when they dropped Garcia and Rector off the night of the incident and were also present. Garcia was allowed to testify for the defense during the prosecutions presentation due to her pregnancy which is due any day. Garcia's testimony was compelling and her statements that the shoes she saw kick Ramirez were white. Throughout the case all have agreed that Scully, not Piekarsky, was wearing white shoes.
Of note, Crystal Dillman, self-described "fiance" of Luis Ramirez has been in court everyday sitting with MALDEF representatives. Obviously, testimony in the case yesterday by Roxanne Rector makes you question how much of a fiance Dillman really was.
The prosecution rested at the end of today, quite a shock to some who expected more testimony in the case from the prosecution.
Oh and one other thing, Piekarsky and Donchak are facing ethnic intimidation charges. But who else is ethnically intimidating?
Somehow the people above at the pretrial hearing were not brought up on ethnic intimidation charges.
Media coverage from WNEP
Assistant D.A Rob Frantz is doing most prosecution questioning today.
9:03 Defense calls Arielle Garcia
to the stand.
Because she is pregnant and may deliver soon, defense has been allowed to call Garcia before prosecution rests it's case.
Garcia: I knew Walsh and Scully by name prior to the fight, and saw them there.
Garcia: I knew Piekarsky by sight, not by name, and do not recall seeing him there.
Garcia: Ramirez heard Scully call him a "stupid Mexican" and they fought again. My husband Victor tried to break it up.
Garcia: I saw Victor punch Walsh.
Garcia: After Ramirez fell, I yelled "stop, stop...leave him alone, he's not awake."
Garcia on the shoes that kicked Ramirez's head: "I remember them being white, but I'm not really sure."
Garcia on white shoe: "I"m not positive about that, that's just how I see it in my mind."
[Donchak's Defense Attorney] Markosky provides Garcia's written statement from two days after the fight, in which she identifies white shoes.
Garcia: after the kick, I yelled "you killed him!" Scully replied "no, he's still breathing."
Garcia: Scully returned and said "tell them you don't know us."
Garcia: Walsh stumbled backward after Victor's punch, and Ramirez fell "pretty quick" after that.
Assistant DA Rob Franz
9:34 Cross examination by prosecution.
Garcia: I saw multiple feet stomping the fallen Ramirez.
Garcia: neither my on-scene or written statements, both to Officer Hayes, identify Scully as kicker.
Garcia says she saw what looked like a gun when all boys but Scully were gone--no further detail on who or in what context given.
9:50 Tape of Garcia's call to 911 played.
Garcia: I said I knew the names of the boys on the 911 tape.
9:55 Garcia: a "Spanish guy" I didn't know had the gun in Vine St. Park.
Garcia Testimony concluded
10:04 Prosecution calls Ann Marie Kovalewski, a parademic who saw Ramirez that night.
Kovalewski: Ramirez was unresponsive, had a swollen and deformed head, and had respiratory difficulties.
10:12 Prosecution calls William Schaeffer, flight paramedic with Geisinger, who also reports head bruising and swelling on left side. Paramedics say Ramirez was sedated
10:36 Prosecution calls forensic pathologist Barbara Bollinger.
Bollinger: I evaluate medical-legal cases and perform autopsies to determine the cause of death.
Bollinger: I have performed more than 5,000 autopsies.
10:50 On cross-examination of Bollinger's credentials, an objection stops a Fanelli question about why she wouldn't talk to the defense office.
Bollinger: I did not observe a shoe print on Ramirez's chest, but days had passed and it might have faded.
Bollinger: medical records showed no CPR or breathing assistance procedures performed to his chest.
Bollinger: a scan revealed no facial fractures, but skull fractures to the left and back sides, and a displaced bone.
Bollinger: Geisinger records said Ramirez's left skull was opened to relieve pressure from accumulating blood.
Bollinger: Geisinger records said Ramirez's brain was contused, blood-stained.
Bollinger is using a black marker on an anatomical body, skull, and brain to demonstrate injuries recorded during her autopsy.
Bollinger: head, torso and arms had contusions. There were two fractures in the sternum area.
Bollinger: his left brain was not a "nice, normal tan color" but a "diffused red."
Bollinger: the two skull fractures, on the back and left sides, intersected. The fracture to the back came first.
Bollinger: my opinion is cause of death is blunt force injuries of head, manner of death is homicide.
Piekarsky's Defense Attorney
11:35 Cross examination of Bollinger
Fanelli asks Bollinger why she didn't respond to "8 to 10 12" calls or various e-mails from his office.
Bollinger: I am only aware of getting one call from your office, just several weeks ago.
Bollinger: I spoke with the prosecution 7 to 9 times, including a couple face-to-face meetings with other doctors.
Fanelli notes that the fractures to the sternum and ribs were not recorded in a CAT scan and several chest X-rays.
Bollinger: I have seen multiple cases where radiological scans did not detect fractures.
Fanelli asks Bollinger if she classifies the death a homicide because there are only 5 categories and the others don't apply.
Bollinger: "Homicide is defined as death at the hands of others, and that's what this is."
Bollinger also stated it was her decision not to talk to the defense about the case.
12:19 Bollinger Testimony completes
1:17 Prosecution calls Dr. Daniel Brown, a neuropathologist from Allentown.
Brown: I have examined almost 2,000 brains, and examined Ramirez's on Aug. 1, 2008.
Brown: I observed a blood clot between his brain and a protective covering, and blood in an area usually containing spinal fluid.
Brown: the left side of his brain had extensive contusions and swelling.
Brown: because of motion of the brain, an injury to the back of the brain caused an injury to the front.
Brown: no evidence of trauma to the right side of his brain.
Brown: injuries consistent with a moving head hitting a stationary object.
1:39 Prosecution calls Dr. Isadore Mihalakis, forensic pathologist and Warren County medical examiner.
Unlike Bollinger, the defense neither questioned nor objected to the admission of Brown and Mihalakis as expert witnesses.
Mihalakis: I reviewed the autopsy and neuropathologist reports for Ramirez.
Mihalakis: Bollinger's markings on the anatomical skull "fairly and accurately" depict injuries.
Mihalakis says there were direct injuries, as well as indirect injuries from the brain bouncing and hitting the skull opposite the impact.
Mihalakis: "All the injuries cannot be from the fall... There were two separate injuries."
Mihalakis: a medical-to-legal blood alcohol content conversion gave a level of .013--about one 12-ounce beer, " maybe a couple of more sips"
D.A. Jim Goodman
2:28 Prosecution calls Josh Redmond
, a friend of the boys who has been mentioned as part of the group on July 12.
D.A. Jim Goodman questioning.
Redmond: I was at the creek and block party with the group. We saw a boy and girl at the park, and Scully made the "out late" comment.
Redmond attributes racial slurs to Scully, Donchak and Walsh.
Redmond: Ramirez replied to Scully and made phone calls, both in Spanish.
Redmond says he and Lawson hung back from the fighting.
Redmond: Piekarsky led the pack. Ramirez threw the first punch, missed, and was tackled by Piekarsky.
Redmond: I saw Ramirez hit the ground, but saw no kick.
Redmond: we ran away. After the incident we encountered two males, one with a gun, who questioned us about the fight.
Redmond: we told them it was our friend, not us. Donchak said he was going to call the friend, but really called the cops.
Redmond: we went to Donchak's house, and Piekarsky went with officers Moyer and Hayes to the scene to identify the male with the gun
Redmond: Hayes is "Brandon's mom's boyfriend"
Redmond: Walsh hit Ramirez with a "sucker punch"
Redmond: we met that night and the next day to get our stories straight. I didn't tell the truth in my first two interviews.
2:57 Fanelli on cross-examination.
Redmond: I wasn't drinking, and I wasn't charged with anything. We weren't setting out to pick on a Mexican.
Redmond attributes no racial comments to Piekarsky.
Redmond: Piekarsky left the first fight after he tripped over a short wall.
Redmond: fighting resumed when Ramirez hit Scully in the back of the head with a running punch.
Redmond: I didn't see Victor Garcia fighting.
Redmond: Walsh didn't like the idea of the boys mentioning his punch and felt he was being blamed.
Fanelli, as in other cross-examinations, points out that Piekarsky is not reported to have said "where or when" he kicked Ramirez.
With Redmond's testimony, all of the boys in the group who are not defendants have taken the stand.
3:25 The prosecution rests their case.
(Shenandoah Teen Trial Coverage: Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, My Verdict, Verdict is in!, Shenandoah Rally and Archive)
Testimony above from The Republican Herald