Sara Stone, mother of baby Stone and the defendant’s wife, took the stand again Thursday to resume giving her testimony. Defense attorney Monica Brushia would ask her to describe the events leading up to the day of October 3, 2012, when her husband made the 911 call.
Quentin Stone, 40, faces child endangerment and abuse charges resulting in death. The trial stated last week after three-month-old Samuel Stone died from injuries that included bleeding on his brain and rib fractures that were in the process of healing.
A weeping Sara, often hanging her head, told the jurors that she had gotten a text from her husband on September 5, 2012, telling her to get home. She said he told her the baby had fallen and he was worried. Sarah arrived home shortly and, after consulting the neighbor, a fireman, they decided it was best to take the baby into the ER to be examined.
She said she stayed home with the other children while Quentin took baby Stone to see a doctor. She stated the doctor told her husband that the baby appeared normal but to watch him. She said it was over a period of 24 hours that the baby began vomiting.
Both she and her husband were concerned, so they took the baby back on the 7th of September, when she said they had informed the doctor at Kaiser that the baby had been projectile vomiting and had an episode of going limp for about 3 to 5 minutes. But, once again, the doctor told her husband the baby was normal but may just have acid reflux.
She said they told her about his limp episode and she did consult with a neurologist out of Kaiser in Roseville. However, after a quick exam, and no injury noticeable to the doctor, they were sent home. No CT scan was ordered.
The defense asked her about the days after this second visit. She said on the 10th of September they took the baby for his well-baby visit, where doctors once again saw no alarm or cause to order a CT Scan, even after they told their pediatrician that the baby had more vomiting and another limp episode.
Dr. Otame, the baby’s pediatrician, still felt it okay to go ahead and give the baby his immunizations and, when telling the doctor about his tracking trouble with his eyes, the doctor’s only response was, “Don’t compare them, it’s different for each child.”
Defense Attorney Brushia asked, “And how did that make you feel?” A weeping Sara replied, “Um….um…I felt scared, upset when he went limp, but she kept giving us reassurance that everything was okay.” “Did she do any blood work or a CT Scan after telling her the baby had now 3 episodes of going limp, possible seizures? Did she say anything about it being a seizure?” Sara, hanging her head and weeping, said, “Um…no…she didn’t seem concerned, she just kept assuring us everything was okay.”
Sara said when the baby would have the episodes, she would put him on her shoulder to bring him around and rub his back. But she stated, “ I was upset, he didn’t feel right and we emailed the doctor again.”
Brushia exclaimed, “She never told you to bring him in, did she? And did she order any tests?” Weeping…Sarah said, “Um…No, she didn’t, she said the medicine for acid reflux would help him but he could still vomit.”
Defense then turned to the day of October 3, 2012. Sara said the babies were home alone with Quentin when, while in the swing, the baby once again went limp, but this time he was unresponsive so Quentin called 911.
She said she met Quentin at the hospital, where he was distraught over the baby. She said they were both emotional and scared but were still able to give Woodland Memorial all of the Kaiser information and tell them about the fall back in September. It was there at Woodland Memorial that the couple was told the baby had bleeding on the brain.
Defense attorney Brushia asked, “Did they say he was having seizures?” “No,” replied Sara. She said they were told he would have to be transferred to UCD.
“Did you notice his eye?” asked Ms. Brushia. “Yes, but no redness or bruising around the eye, noticed it was shut.”
Sara said it the doctors at the UCD Med Center told them that the baby may be disabled but it was not until three days later they were told he would not recover. She said they had hope and were fine with him being disabled because they were both strong enough to handle it.
A lot of family members were with them at the hospital and some present when the doctors consulted with her and Quentin.
On October 8, Sara and the family said their goodbyes. In a statement to baby Stone, she said, “You didn’t deserve this,” which would later be an alarm for Det. Jamison who questioned the couple at the hospital. Sara stated, when she learned that Dr. Coulter felt the child had possibly been abused, she lost all faith in the doctors and was angry. She said when she learned the CPS took their other children, “I was mad!” stated Sara.
She said they donated the baby’s organs. “I wanted to be able to help other kids,” expressed Sara.
Brushia, raising her voice, asked, “Did at any time, you feel that Quentin would have hurt the baby? Did you ever see him abuse drugs, alcohol or be quick tempered? No history of violence?”
Sara asserted, “Never, never!” “Did you ever see him lash out at anyone? Would you still be with him if he had?” exclaimed Brushia.
“NO! never!” Sara replied.
Deputy DA Steve Mount objected, telling the judge that the defense was talking about his case and it is not her business. The judge ruled in his favor and sustained the objection. Brushia vehemently stated, “Your Honor, the Deputy DA is trying to say, he snapped!” It was still sustained.
Mr. Mount came back in direct with asking questions about the day of October 4, 2012. “You didn’t know your child was dying on the 4th, correct?” Sara, appearing bold, said, “Yes, that is correct.”
“When you changed his diaper, is that the only time you saw him go limp?” asked Mount. “Yes,” replied Sara. “So…your instincts were to soothe him?” “Yes,” answered Sara. “And when his breathing was labored, you didn’t have concern to call 911?” Mount asked.
Mr. Mount asked about the form filled out by Sara at the well-baby visit. He asked her why she had said in testimony earlier that she told the doctor about the visual tracking being off, but marked on the form it was okay. Sara stated she did not recall saying doing that or testifying to it.
Mount brought to her attention that, in a previous testimony, Sara had said that her toddler had fallen on the baby with complete body but never told the defense until today. She stated, “I don’t recall.”
“And you testified to the Grand Jury that your toddler was occasionally jealous, or jealous all the time?” Mount asked. “It was a typical 2 ½ year-old jealousy,” she replied.
The deputy DA’s next witness was Dr. Coulter, Chief of Pediatrics at UCD. Dr. Coulter told jurors he had been called to examine the baby once he was brought into the ICU. He testified that, from his years of experience with abused children, he felt the fractures accompanied with the brain injury were suspect of non-accidental trauma.
He said they ordered testing on the brain but it was not right away. He said in the CT Scan done by Woodland Memorial, it was found that the brain had blood in both hemispheres and in the subdural and subarachnoid areas, and other fluid, possibly spinal fluid, on the brain. He stated that the brain tissue had abnormalities also, but that could be due to seizures. He stated the “soft spot, or Fontenela “ was bulging.
Dr. Coulter said, “We wanted to get the seizures under control first, but we never really did, we were hopeful but they were difficult to control.”
He stated, “He had a visible seizure involving his left hand.” Deputy DA Robin Johnson asked, “But you can put a needle in the head to drain the fluid, right?” “Yes, we can, but we didn’t do that,” stated the doctor.
“Why not?” Johnson asked. “Neuro felt it was unnecessary?” “You can do an MRI, can’t you?” Johnson asked. “Yes, but he was too unstable to move, we didn’t do the MRI until later,” replied Dr. Coulter.
Dr. Coulter said when he questioned the defendant about what preceded the hospital ER visit at Woodland Memorial, Quentin told the story about the fall. “He was forthcoming and helpful with the information.”
Dr. Coulter explained that, in a fall, you will not have bleeding on both sides of the brain typically, but it can be possible if a person loses oxygen or blood to the brain. However, in his experience, he has seen many more cases of abused children exhibiting the same injuries as baby Stone. But the doctor ran several tests to rule out blood disorders and metabolic causes, and consulted with two other hospitals.
He said he called the Children’s Hospital in Oakland and the University of San Diego to consult with them. Coulter also stated that he sent blood work to a special diagnostics lab to test for copper deficiencies. He stated he ran tests for rickets, a vitamin D deficiency and a few other tests.
Dr. Coulter stated, “Copper deficiency can fool you, make you believe the child has been abused, but his levels were fine, only low on the vitamin D levels.”
He said he consulted with Dr. Patel and had him run a special series of skeletal xrays that show more details. In the MRI done, he stated it showed the blood fluid and the skull’s bones to have wider spaces than normal, which indicate swelling and fluid on the brain.
About the injuries he stated, “In general, brain injury occurs by impact,” He stated, “The MRI showed injury to both sides and lower part of the brain which is called the cerebellum.”
He said he wanted to run tests to rule out suspicion and conclude his report.
Dr. Coulter stated, “We don’t normally run this many tests but in this case we did.” But he stated, “Conversations with Quentin were going well as expected, this was a horrible event, a horrible event and they were appropriately upset.”
The defense vehemently objected to the doctor’s answer about the state of mind of the Stone couple.
Defense will cross-examine in the morning.