Child abuse hearing continues to trial

Sabrina Ashley Sawicki
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CHEYENNE, Wyo.- A hearing for the trial of 25-year-old Sabrina Sawicki, who is charged with killing her 16-month-old son last April, took place Tuesday, February 6 in Laramie County District Court.

The hearing took a full day and focused on whether the scientific evidence and the methodology used to get the diagnoses is reliable, as well as whether the terms "Shaken Baby Syndrome/ Whiplash Syndrome/ Abusive Head Trauma" should be excluded during testimony at the trial. The defense had argued that the terminology could impact the jury's ability to make an accurate judgement during the trial.

Sawicki is facing first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, but she is pleading not guilty to those charges.

Autopsy results showed her 16-month-old baby boy died from head injuries consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome. One witness, Dr. Stephen Cina of Loveland, Co., a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy said the child had several injuries including a bruise on the back of his head, spinal chord trauma and a swollen brain that are all symptoms of abusive head trauma.

Two other witnesses on behalf of the state, who also demonstrated expertise on the topic, took the stand on Tuesday speaking more in depth on the method used when determining the diagnoses as well as the criticisms.

The defense did argue that the state did not give a complete testimony in that not all witnesses were prepared to talk about the actual case, but only on the scientific methodology in determining the diagnoses in related cases. The plaintiff argued that the purpose was to only question the method and technique used.

Judge Steven Sharpe, however, had made the decision that the three terms that are used by experts and in relative fields are on fair grounds and can be used during testimony. Witnesses seemed to agree the controversy isn't in the medical community, but mainly the courtroom.

The trial for Sawicki is expected to begin April 3.