Appeal from Superior Court of Pierce County. Docket No: 94-1-01425-2. Date filed: 10/26/94. Judge signing: Hon. Vicki L. Hogan.
Petition for Review Denied July 8, 1997,
Authored by Elaine M. Houghton. Concurring: Carroll C. Bridgewater, David H. Armstrong.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Houghton
HOUGHTON, C. J. -- Mary Jo McDaniel appeals her conviction of homicide by abuse, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction and that the trial court erred in excluding evidence that she had been abused by her live-in boyfriend, Leon Currie. We affirm.
On April 4, 1994, paramedics responded to a call of cardiac arrest of a child, Edwin McDaniel (born July 6, 1992). The paramedics were unable to revive him. Although McDaniel told them that Edwin had stopped breathing only minutes before, the paramedics noted the presence of lividity and rigor mortis in Edwin's arms and legs.
Edwin was rushed to St. Clare Hospital. The emergency department doctor noted that Edwin had severe bruising all over his body and that the variations in color suggested that they had been inflicted at different times. The doctor noted that Edwin appeared cyanotic and that his abdomen was swollen and distended. From his examination, the doctor concluded that Edwin had been ill for a prolonged period and had been dead for some time before being taken to the hospital.
An autopsy revealed numerous injuries: bruises to the head and face; bruising on the neck inflicted only hours before death; several blunt trauma wounds to the chest; a fractured right forearm; and blunt trauma wounds to the buttocks, arms and legs. Tests revealed that morphine, codeine, and cocaine were present in Edwin's blood and that these drugs were probably introduced into Edwin's system within two hours of death.
The most significant injuries were numerous blunt trauma wounds to the abdomen resulting in multiple lacerations of the intestine and mesentery. These lacerations caused between 800 and 1000 milliliters of fluid to leak into Edwin's abdominal cavity. The medical examiner concluded that "the cause of death . . . is the blunt, multiple blunt trauma with laceration of the intestine and the mesentery, with bleeding and infection, peritonitis," and that Edwin's death was a homicide.
McDaniel was charged by amended information with homicide by abuse and alternatively with second degree felony murder. The trial court granted the State's pretrial motion to exclude evidence that Currie physically abused McDaniel which she offered to show duress or lack of complicity. A jury found McDaniel guilty of homicide by abuse and she appeals.