Jury convicts Castle Rock father of manslaughter in infant daughter's death
Jurors late Friday night found Benjamin Shane Pingle guilty of first-degree manslaughter for killing his infant daughter in 2006 and also guilty of assaulting the baby's twin sister.
Upon hearing the verdict, Pingle, 25, appeared calm while his wife and other family members cried. One family member shouted, "You're wrong!" at prosecutor Sue Baur.
Expert prosecution witnesses testified that Justice's fatal injuries were due to shaking, severe whiplash or having her head slammed against something. They also said the twins, who were born five weeks premature, did not have the strength to injure themselves, as the defense contended.
On Jan. 22, 2006, the twins' mother — Pingle's wife, Krystal Pingle — came home from work and discovered Justice wasn't breathing. The infant could not be revived at the hospital, and Benjamin Pingle, who had been the only adult alone with the children earlier that day, was arrested two days later on suspicion of causing the injuries that killed Justice and left Liberty scratched and bruised.
Justice died of "closed-head trauma, with the manner of death being a homicide," according to the autopsy report.
Throughout the three-week trial, defense attorney James K. Morgan's witnesses offered several explanations for the injuries and death.
The infants' bruises could have been caused by rolling on pacifiers in their crib, defense witnesses testified. The dime-size mark on Liberty's forehead could have been caused by the baby rubbing her face on the carpet or bedding.
Bruising on the twins' faces also could have occured when the parents practiced a technique they learned at the hospital for holding a vomiting baby, Morgan said.
The twins shared a crib and could have scratched each other, the defense asserted.
Defense expert witnesses said Justice's brain injuries, which included internal bleeding, could have been caused at birth. She also could have suffered a seizure or died from severe dehydration, the experts testified.
Smith called Morgan's explanations for the children's injuries "smoke and mirrors." He showed jurors a picture of Justice taken during the autopsy, in which bruises were visible on the infant's forehead and cheek.
"That's the face of a baby that's been beat up ... the face of a child that's been traumatized," Smith said. "Eighty-six days. That's all she got (to live)."
Jurors found Pingle not guilty of the more severe charge of second-degree murder, which alleged he intentionally assaulted Justice in a way that led to her death. They also found him not guilty of the more severe charge of second-degree assault against Liberty.
Full article with comments: http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/05/...8451536339.txt
If you really want more:
Pathologist offers stark testimony: http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/05/...b667858228.txt
Prosecution calls mother to the stand: http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/05/...9835945231.txt
Defense paid expert testimony: http://www.tdn.com/articles/2008/05/...1098281555.txt
Maybe one of our photo sleuths can come up with on? I had no luck.