The courtroom, compiled of family members, friends and colleagues of the Stone family, were brought to tears today as one of the grandmothers of baby Stone took the stand. Mrs. Nancy Yudin, mother of Sara Stone, would soon have the courtroom wiping away the tears as she gave an emotional testimony. Some of the jurors themselves were overcome with emotion.
Quentin Stone is the son-in-law to Yudin, and the man who is accused of shaking his three-month-old baby, causing injuries that would later result in his death.
But, earlier in the morning, the last expert for the defense would take his turn at trying to answer the questions about baby Samuel’s cause of death. An emergency room physician from Amador County would testify to reading the reports given by other doctors. However, in cross-examination, he admitted he never wrote or reviewed any x-rays or the autopsy in the case.
The doctor was asked to talk about the fall. Deputy Public Defender Monica Brushia asked him if he thought the injuries baby Samuel had sustained could have come from a fall. “Yes, exactly,” he stated. “Short falls can cause hematomas, re-bleeds and injury,” the doctor said.
He said that, in his opinion, “the baby died from a failure to misdiagnose an illness and that is what killed him.” He stated, “A series of misfortunate accidents.”
But in the cross by Deputy District Attorney Steve Mount, his answers would appear to shift. Mount asked, “So you can rule out any trauma?” “I cannot rule out trauma, but I believe that the parents’ story is logical.” answers the doctor. “So, doctor, you stated it was a series of misfortunate accidents, and how do you know of the accidents, or how many are you saying happened?” asserted Mount. “I said misfortunate events, ” replied the doctor. “So doctor, did you read the autopsy report? and did you read about a re-bleed?” asks Mount. “Ah…no, I did not read anything about a re-bleed.”
DDA Mount questioned the doctor about the retinal bleeding found in the baby’s autopsy and where he thought it may have come from. He stated he did not know but had never seen a retinal bleed come from a metabolic illness. “They are rare,” said the doctor, in regards to retinal bleeding from illness.
The doctor admitted he had never looked at Samuel’s x-rays but relied on the reports from other doctors. He stated a lot of cases have been ruled child abuse cases but are not. He said, “There are innocent explanations, and even one case wrongly accused is too many.”
Openly admitting that he never even read the autopsy report of baby Samuel, only the reports by doctors Coulter, Plunkett and Barnes.
DDA Mount asked the doctor if he remembered getting a phone call from him to come and testify. He replied, “No, I do not recall. I don’t even know your name.”
“So you never wrote your own report? even after reviewing this case for 15 hours?” asked the deputy DA. “No, I did not, wasn’t asked.” When asked about the rib fractures, he told Mount the rib fractures found on the baby were from birth and over-interpreted. “But you never looked at the x-rays, correct?” asserted Mount. “No, I did not.” he answered.
“In your notes, did you put that you thought Dr. Coulter was cruel, thoughtless?” asked Mount. “I didn’t know my notes were going to be turned over to you.” replied the doctor.
He was then asked a series of questions in regard to an article in which another doctor did a study of 18 children who had been born with a brain bleed. In the completion of the study by Dr. Rook, it was found that every child born with a bleed had shown it to be resolved within three months. But the doctor stated he disagreed with Dr. Rooks’ findings, insisting that a re-bleed cannot be seen sometimes. Mount pointed out that all 18 children were found to have no bleed after a 3-month period.
The doctor stated, “I think Rook denied that some had a re-bleed.”
Mount then turned the doctors attention to the fall. He asked, “And what if there is no fall? How would he get the re-bleed?” “I don’t know why the parents would make it up,” answered the doctor.
The doctor talked about confessions in the ER from a parent suspected of child abuse. He said when he would ask how the child sustained the injuries it would take a few minutes but they would eventually confess to causing the injury. But he also stated that sometimes parents will shake a baby as a form of CPR, if they find the child not breathing.
He stated, “Once the brain has intracranial pressure, it takes 4 minutes for the child to become brain dead.” He said the pupils can blow. He said he read in the EMT report that baby Stone’s left pupil had blown.
He admitted he could not tell what edema looked like on an x-ray, stating he was not the radiology expert, but said the baby had a herniation, likely being the cause of pressure being so high. He stated, “They could have relieved the pressure once at UCD.” But, he stated, “By then it was too late.”
Mount asked if he testified in medical malpractice suits, and he replied, “Some, yes,” and he had also testified in other criminal cases. He admitted, “I am not a pathologist, I don’t want to make expert opinion.” But he asserted that he has seen too many child abuse cases to talk about.
In redirect, Ms. Brushia asked the doctor if it were possible for the re-bleed to come from minimal force, and he replied, “Yes, it is possible.”
Brushia asked, “In Plunkett’s study, did the children have an acute hematoma?” “I don’t recall,” stated the doctor.
DDA Mount asked the doctor about the studies of children who had fallen. “In every single one of the children who presented with a bad fall, died within an hour, correct?” “That happens, you can’t say all, but some, not disputing, ” replied the doctor.
“So, you are not a Pathologist, Neurologist, Radiologist, correct? you are Monday Morning Quarterbacking?” Mount stated boldly.
Raising his voice, the doctor replied, “I am NOT a Monday Morning Quarterback!”
Brushia asked in re-direct, “Did you know on autopsy, a re-bleed can be identified because of a thin membrane?” “That is true,” answered the doctor.
It was now time to hear from the grandmother of baby Samuel. Nancy Yudin told a story of a kind, generous man she had met during the time her daughter was going to college at Fresno State. She said she remembered the day that Quentin had called and asked for permission to marry her daughter.
She said after the two were married they tried effortlessly to have children and, on the day they found out Sara was pregnant with little Jack, they all shared tears and were elated. Yudin said Quentin was always very supportive of Sara’s career and so excited to be having a baby.
Once little Jack was born, she stated, “Quentin cried, he was very loving and protective of Sara.” “Did you ever see him raise his voice at Jack, Sara or anyone else? Lose his temper at dinner? or be resentful of Sara’s career?” asked Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira. “No, never.”
When the two had the baby twins, Yudin explained they were all very nervous because of some complications with the twins’ delivery. She said Sam was breech and the heart rate was going down. Once the babies were born, a weeping Mrs. Yudin stated, “We all cried, pictures were being taken like crazy, and Quentin was hugging Sara as he cried.” She said Quentin was just elated.
She said, “Quentin said to me, Sara is going to be just like you.” Mrs. Yudin would go on to talk about the day baby Samuel fell off the bed. She said she got a call that night and knew that Quentin had taken the baby to the ER but was told by the doctor, “Everything is okay.” She said she went with her daughter, Sara to the well-baby visit and expressed a concern about the immunizations still being given, even though the baby had fallen and was vomiting.
But, once again, she heard, “The baby is fine,” She said when her daughter told the pediatrician about the tracking issues she was concerned about with baby Samuel, she replied, “Don’t compare the twins, they are two different people.”
“We thought everything was fine,” stated a teary-eyed Yudin…the courtroom was silent for a moment…
When the defense asked about how Quentin was around the twins and the toddler, she said he was a good father, and she never saw him get impatient. She said his manner of discipline was doing a time out with little Jack.
After the day of September 10, Yudin stated her mother became ill and she left for Walnut Creek to take care of her. She said she had only come back a few times in between that day until her mother passed on the 29th of September. “I was not myself, I don’t recall much.” she sobbed…
Mrs. Yudin said she recalls the vomiting but could not recall the specific dates or times but knew it was after the fall. She said she noticed that baby Samuel had been “staring off into space, often looking away, he seemed quieter than Hank, calm, not crying much.”
After returning home from Walnut Creek, she said she visited the babies about every other day.
The defense asked, “And on the night of October 3, how was Quentin at the hospital?” “He was distraught, scared, crying,” Yudin sobbed.
“And did he appear to be remorseful, overwrought with guilt, hiding something?” asked Sequeira softly. “No…he was crying, worried and we were trying to hold the baby in our arms, hold him still while they inserted a needle in his head at Woodland Memorial,” Yudin struggled to answer through her sobs.
“So when did you find out that they suspected child abuse?” asked Ms. Sequeira. “We found out at UCD, we saw the police come in and knew, we were devastated…all of us, I couldn’t comprehend it…” she says.
Mrs. Yudin said even on the night they took the other boys, Quentin never yelled or got angry.
The defense asked, “And what did the doctors tell you when you asked for a second opinion during the meeting with all the doctors when told about Samuel’s condition? “They told us that it would only prolong baby Samuel’s misery and it would take too long.” Yudin replied.
She was asked how long it was before they could actually bury the baby. She said it was not until December. “And if you thought Quentin would ever hurt his baby, what would you do?” asked a somber Sequeira. “I would turn him in,” stated Yudin.
In cross, DDA Robin Johnson asked Yudin about the discipline of little Jack. Yudin stated, “He did a time out.” “Did you ever see what he did in his room during that time out?” asks Johnson. “No, I did not.” she answers.
Johnson asked her about the vomiting and if she could recall if she noticed it before the fall or after. Yudin stated, “Yes, I have seen him vomit before but not projectile vomit, he did that after the fall.” “And you voiced your opinions on immunizations? at the well-baby visit?” asked Johnson. “Yes, we were concerned about him not being well.” she stated.
Yudin said she did not recall when she first noticed the baby having tracking problems. She said that baby Sam had always been the quieter of the two babies but did seem as if something bothered him after the fall on September 5.
She was asked about the demeanor of Quentin when visiting the babies. She said he was always kind, generous, never seemed to mind her being there.
She said Quentin knew any of the friends or family would help him out with the children if he asked.
Deputy DA Johnson asked her once again about the vomiting, “When you came back on the 29th, was the baby vomiting?” “I do not recall, I was not myself.” Yudin replied.
Yudin said Sara would leave when Quentin got home to go coach soccer games. She said, “You could say we were a soccer family.”
Johnson asked if she ever had recollection of anyone coming over to assist Quentin with the babies while Sara was coaching, and she replied, “Myself, my friends.” “And do you know if there were other people coming over to assist Stone on the nights Sara coached?” Johnson asked. “I don’t know,” Yudin answered.
Ms. Sequeira asked Yudin, “Based on your observations if he felt overwhelmed was he the type of person who would ask for help?” “Yes,” stated Yudin. “Did he ever feel like he would be ridiculed if he did?” the defense asked. “No, he never would have been ridiculed.” she replied.
Testimony ended and will resume in the morning. DDA Steve Mount let the court know of his rebuttal witness, Dr. Omalu, who will be coming back to testify on Wednesday afternoon and hopes to begin closing arguments late that day.
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