The Stone case continued with the prosecutor calling Yolo County Deputy Coroner Laurel Weeks to the stand on the morning of May 2. Prosecuting Attorney Steve Mount conducted a cross-examination that began calmly but ended with an outburst by Defense Attorney Martha Sequeira.
Quentin Stone is the father accused of “shaking” his two-month-old baby, which potentially may have caused the baby’s death. The trial, which started last week, involves the contention that three-month-old Samuel Stone died from injuries that included bleeding in his brain, retinal hemorrhages and fractured ribs, and has left many questioning the charges at hand.
Before delving into the specifics of the victim’s case, the prosecution briefed the court on the witness’ occupation and expertise as a deputy coroner. As his examination continued, anticipation filled the air as the prosecution’s questions started to narrow in on Stone’s alleged victim. Asking the witness what her role was in the victim’s autopsy, she responded that she was in charge of photographing the body before, during, and after the procedures. When asked about any visible signs on the body, the witness informed the court that the body had a scar from the organ donating procedure and medical tags from the UC Davis Medical Center.
Mr. Mount then grabbed three documents from his seat and was re-approaching the witness when, before he was able to show the witness or the jurors the content of the documents, the defense interrupted with a boisterous “Objection!” Shortly after Ms. Sequeira proceeded to present her reasons for objecting, Judge Richardson called both counsels to the bench and requested a short recess. Once the jury evacuated the court room, the counsels and Judge Richardson were engaged in an intense discussion in which Ms. Sequeira was clearly vehement.
The documents that the prosecution was presenting were pictures of the victim’s fractured ribs. The defense argued that Mr. Mount violated the court’s ruling on the agreement made between both counsels. The agreement stated that both counsels would present all evidence and photos to each other before it was brought to the jurors’ attention. However, because both the defense and prosecution had access to the photos, Judge Richardson allowed the presentation of the photographs.
After the short recess, the prosecution revealed to the court three photographs of what appeared to be the victim’s fractured ribs. In further conducting his cross-examination, or at least attempting to, the defense made it very difficult for the prosecution to ask a question, which appeared to intimidate the witness, who began to second-guess her answers. To every question the prosecution asked, the defense followed up by objecting to it as “speculative,” “hearsay” or other objections.
When the prosecution finally delivered a question to the witness, it left a significant impression. He clarified through the witness that it was medical doctors who determined a victim’s cause of death, and that it was her job as a Deputy Coroner to determine the manner of death: suicide, homicide, accident, illness, or undetermined. DDA Mount asked her what, in her professional opinion, she noted the manner of death to be and she responded “homicide.”
Attempting to discredit the Deputy Coroner’s proficiency, Deputy Public Defender Sequeira questioned the witness about one of the requests made by the Stone family. The Stone family requested a Forensic Pediatric Pathologist to be present during the baby’s autopsy, but their request was not met. When the defense asked the witness why this was the case, she replied that the orders were made by her Chief Deputy and that she was simply following orders. The defense took a seat and stated “nothing further.”
Judge Richardson adjourned the court early afternoon on Friday, May 2 and scheduled the trial to be continued on Monday morning.