A Cortland County jury heard closing arguments Monday morning in the trial of Dorian Bohn, a McGraw man charged with murdering a 2-year-old girl he was caring for in April.
Judge Julie Campbell said Friday arguments would start at 9:30 a.m. and the jury should be able to start its deliberations by lunch.
Bohn, 29, is accused of murdering Kassidy Dains, who died of a fatal head injury on April 19 after sustaining 50 injuries. Bohn was indicted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, felonies, as well as endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
Public Defender Keith Dayton rested his case Friday after the expert testimony of a Rhode Island forensic pathologist who was hired to examine the Dains case and testify for $16,500.
Dr. Priya Banerjee, who has conducted at least 2,000 autopsies in her role as a Rhode Island state pathologist, testified Dains died by an “undetermined” manner, rather than of a homicide as the forensic pathologist from Binghamton concluded. Banerjee did not conclude two-year-old’s death was accidental, from a fall from a bunk bed, as Bohn claims.
Banerjee testified “there are rare cases” where a child is killed from a fall of less than 10 feet and cited a scientific article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The article, entitled “Annual Risk of Death Resulting From Short Falls Among Young Children: Less Than 1 in 1 Million,” concludes, “The best current estimate of the mortality rate for short falls affecting infants and young children is <0.48 deaths per 1 million young children per year.”
Banerjee also noted in her testimony that a study of 1,775 injured children under six concluded most head injuries were minor.
The sheer number of bruises on Dains’ body would have prompted Banerjee to refer her case to police for potential child abuse, Banerjee testified.
In her cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth McGrath asked, “Do you think failure to get prompt medical attention for a child is a sign of child abuse?”
“I do not feel that it’s child abuse,” Banerjee replied, noting Dains’ head injury was so severe she would have died whether or not she received medical attention.
According to police photos and 911 dispatch recordings presented at trial, Bohn texted Dains’ mother at around 7:20 p.m. the night of her death saying the girl had fallen out of her bunk bed, but did not call 911 until nearly 9 p.m.
Bohn also admitted in a recorded police interview that he waited two to three minutes after Dains’ stopped breathing to call 911.
McGrath also asked Banerjee if she knew that falls are a frequent excuse used to cover up child abuse.
“It can be,” Banerjee replied.
Banerjee said the bruising around Dains’ neck could be from fingers grabbing the child’s throat.
When questioned if she thought finding one of Dains’ hairs in a damaged portion of wall was relevant to the investigation, Banerjee said, “(It) could be.”
McGrath also asked Banerjee about Benadryl, which was found at a “therapeutic level” in the child’s system.
“It can produce sleep,” Banerjee said, of the antihistamine usually taken for allergy relief. “Even with a therapeutic level.”
It could be a possible sign of child abuse if a child was given unneeded Benadryl to put them to sleep, Banerjee testified.
Dains’ mother, Krystal Dains, previously testified her daughter did not have allergies and was too young to take pills, such as the Benadryl pills police found at the family’s apartment.
Banerjee also testified that the small amount of alcohol found in Kassidy Dains’ system after her death could have been caused by decomposing bacteria in the child’s gut. Some of the bruises on the girl’s face, neck and chest could also have been caused by emergency medical efforts to save the two-year-old’s life, Banerjee said.
According to a scientific article published in 2000 that studied child falls from beds, less than 10 percent of children who fell from a bed suffered significant head injury symptoms. “There were no skull fractures and no cases of intracranial bleeding,” according to the article which used a study conducted at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital in Scotland. “All these children made a full recovery.” The article, entitled “Injuries associated with falls from beds,” was published in the peer-reviewed British medical journal BMJ and written by Dr Diana M. Macgregor.