When 18-month-old Garth Leippi was brought into the emergency room at Red Deer Regional Hospital he could not breathe on his own and was totally unresponsive, said a pediatrician who examined him that day nearly three years ago.
Dr. Charles Bester said the toddler did not react to pain, his pupils were fixed and dilated and there was no blink reflex.
“It was clear to us he was in a very, very deep coma at that stage, for whatever reason,” said Bester, who was testifying on Wednesday in the second-degree murder trial of Evan Caswell Gilmer, 33, of Red Deer.
A CT scan provided a grim picture of what was going on in the head of the boy he had examined only weeks before and found to be completely healthy.
The bleeding was so massive inside the youngster’s skull that his ventricles, which carry cerebrospinal fluid, were “almost squished” because of the pressure.
Bester said after seeing those pictures he believed the boy was “on his way” and would not likely live.
An eye examination showed large hemorrhages in his retinas, which in children is often the result of a head injury.
STARS had already been called by this time to transfer Leippi to Calgary Children’s Hospital, which has a pediatric intensive care unit.
Leippi had been brought into Red Deer Regional Hospital at 6:47 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2008, and was on a helicopter to Calgary about 8:30 a.m.
Leippi was diagnosed with a skull fracture and 24 hours later he was taken off life support and died.
Bester said he spoke privately to the child’s mother, Jennifer Gladue, and a man he took to be her boyfriend in a room at the Red Deer hospital not long after the toddler was brought in.
The man said while the boy’s mother was asleep the child stopped breathing.
The doctor said the man told him the child was punched, slapped and then shaken in an attempt to revive him. When his lips turned blue, the ambulance was called.
Crown prosecutor Jason Snider asked Bester if he could comment on the amount of trauma required to cause the damage to Leippi’s head.
“I prefer not to comment, but I think the scan speaks for itself,” the doctor replied.
Dr. Gordon Neil, a Red Deer hospital emergency room physician, who was the first doctor to look at Leippi, also testified.
Neil also found the boy unresponsive and unable to breathe on his own when fire-medics brought him in.
In an initial examination, Neil also noticed bruising on the boy’s right cheek and some soft tissue swelling at the back of his head on the right side. The facial bruise appeared to be less than a day old.
The jury trial continues today.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate