Smith County 114th District Judge Christi Kennedy granted a mistrial Thursday in the case of a Tyler man accused of beating a 14-month-old child and causing her brain damage.
The trial for Brian Pringle, 44, charged with injury to a child, began Tuesday. He faced up to a life sentence if he had been convicted.
The judge declared the mistrial because prosecutors played a portion of a police interview conducted with Pringle for the jury in which the police referenced a polygraph the defendant had taken.
The prosecutors were supposed to erase that portion of the tape dealing with the reference before jurors heard it, but did not do so.
A new trial date has not yet been set.
It was not the first time there were difficulties in the trial. A neighbor, to whom Pringle ran for help with the baby on Sept. 5, said in court the defendant had been in jail once before. The neighbor, Cassandra Wheeler, was answering a question from Defense Attorney Tonda Curry when she revealed the information on Tuesday, which jurors were told to disregard.
Pringle, who at first did not allow the emergency medical technicians into his home on that day, told police several versions of what happened to the child before stating that the two of them were playing together on a bed, and that the child fell off of it.
The girl's 20-year-old mother also testified earlier that she attended a family reunion with the child the day before she was injured, and that the baby, who was learning to walk, fell several times.
But Dr. Matthew Cox of Children's Medical Center in Dallas told the jury Thursday the baby's injuries were not consistent with a “low-level fall,” which a child might experience when falling off of a bed. Cox also is board certified in child abuse pediatrics.
Cox testified the baby suffered several minor strokes on the right side of her brain, which caused her to be paralyzed on the left side of her body. He told jurors the child would have permanent brain damage, which would affect her intelligence and how she moves and walks.
On Thursday morning, jurors listened to an audio recording of an interview with Tyler police Detective Dennis Matthews and Pringle. During the recording, Pringle could be heard crying while he told Matthews that he didn't mean to hurt the child, and that “he loved her.”
Pringle began crying as he sat at the defense table, listening to the recording of his interview with Matthews.