The mother of a baby diagnosed with bleeding in the brain testified Tuesday that she saw no injuries on the 14 month old before leaving her at the home of the man accused of causing those injuries.
The testimony came on the first day of the trial for Brian Fredzell Pringle, 44, accused of shaking a 14-month-old female baby in September and causing a subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain. The child, who had to be air lifted to Children’s Medical Center of Dallas from East Texas Medical Center on Sept. 5, suffers paralysis on one side of her body, and had a retinal hemorrhage, prosecutors said Tuesday in opening statements.
The trial is taking place in the Smith County 114th District Court. Pringle faces up to life in prison if convicted of injury to a child, a first-degree felony, prosecutors said.
The 21-year-old mother told the jury that she bathed her baby on two separate occasions on Friday before dropping the child off at Pringle’s home on the night of Sept. 4. The mother, who attended a family reunion with the child prior to leaving the baby with Pringle, testified that her daughter was “acting normally” that night and had no injuries on her body.
The mother testified, in response to questioning from prosecutor Whitney Tharpe, that her baby was learning to walk and frequently fell down the night of the family reunion. “She tripped and hit her head on a folding metal chair (Sept. 4) and fell off of a porch,” the mother said.
Ms. Tharpe asked the mother when she next saw her baby after she was left with Pringle. “At the hospital,” the mother replied, referring to ETMC. The mother testified that her baby was “just laying there” when she saw her at the hospital. The mother asked to hold her daughter and she did so for about 15 minutes before nurses told her that they had to airlift the child.
But when Ms. Wheeler called for emergency help, Pringle took the baby back to his home, saying he didn’t think it was necessary to call an ambulance.
Several emergency medical technicians from the Tyler Fire Department testified that when they arrived at the scene, they could not get Pringle to answer the door at his home. When Pringle did open the door and allow the technicians inside, he told them that he and his wife had taken the baby to a high school football game on Sept. 4, the night before, and that the baby had grabbed her head once, yelling in pain.
The technicians testified that they saw the baby lying on a bed, and that although she was breathing, she was unresponsive.
Dr. Jackie Lee Rose Jr., the emergency room doctor who treated the injured 14 month old on Sept. 5, said she had a subdural hematoma. “This is very serious injury in a child,” he testified Tuesday afternoon. The doctor said the hematoma could have caused the seizure.
The doctor said a simple fever or some type of blow to the head could cause a seizure. Rose explained that he ordered a standard workup on the child, including blood and urine screens, an EKG and a CT scan. “I saw no test results that would indicate the baby had a seizure,” he testified.
The CT scan indicated bleeding on the surface of the brain, which could be very serious, the doctor said. “There is no room in the skull, and the bleeding can cause pressure and death if not corrected,” Rose said.
In a child, the injury is usually caused by a non-accidental trauma, the doctor said.
Defense Attorney Tonda Curry said in her opening statements that Pringle considered himself “to be just a big kid who likes to play.”
Ms. Curry said when the baby was hurt that her client panicked because he knew the baby’s injuries were his fault. Pringle and the 14 month old were jumping on the bed when Pringle said the 14-month-old had fallen off the bed and hit her head, Ms. Curry said.
“He didn’t intentionally cause the injury. He ignored the risk and in his panic, he made some bad choices and decisions,” Ms. Curry told the jury.