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Medical professionals testify 3-year-old suffered from major trauma in Christopher Cheary trial

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The South Valley murder trial for a man convicted of killing three-year-old Sophia Acosta continued Wednesday with testimony from various medical professionals. (KFSN)

The South Valley murder trial for a man convicted of killing three-year-old Sophia Acosta continued Wednesday with testimony from various medical professionals.

After her death, Acosta's brain was delivered to Stanford University. Dr. Hanns Vogel is the director of the neuropathology department there, and he examined Acosta's brain and then came to some startling conclusions.

"The history we have, along with the general autopsy findings and so forth, were completely consistent with many forms of trauma to this deceased person."

Vogel found that Acosta suffered subdural hemorrhages-- basically bleeding under the thick coverings of the brain. He also noted significant brain swelling and found evidence of extensive bilateral retinal hemorrhages and optic sheath hemorrhages-- in other words bleeding in the back of the eyes.

"A fall would not account for the injuries in this child."

Vogel said there is an overall pattern as it relates to the cause of Acosta's injuries: non-accidental blunt force trauma to the head.

The prosecution has argued that's how Acosta died at the hands of Christopher Cheary, the boyfriend of Acosta's mother.

Cheary's defense team has explained that Acosta had a blood clotting disorder. But Vogel said that wouldn't account for the injuries he observed.

"There's no way on God's green earth that this pattern of injury could be due to a blood clot to the brain."

An emergency room nurse testified that Acosta still had a faint pulse when she arrived at Kaweah Delta Hospital.

"She came on an ambulance gurney and she was wet and she was not breathing on her own. And they picked her up to move her from the ambulance gurney to the hospital gurney and there was blood on the ambulance gurney," said Teresa Pardee, Kaweah Delta RN.

Later, she noticed bleeding from Acosta's genitals as well as bruising to her rear end.

Cheary is charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances of torture and sexual penetration. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

This trial is expected to go through next week.

Related Topics:
sex crimesvisaliachild deathtrialtulare countyVisalia
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