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					Thursday, April 15, 1999             Laredo Morning Times   PAGE 5A

      LOCAL

Abuse
trial
begins
BY ROBERT GARCIA
Times staff writer

  Defense attorney G. Allen
Ramirez told a 49th District
Court jury Wednesday to keep
an “open mind” until all the evi-
dence is heard in the injury to a
child case against his client
Mary Garza.
  Garza was operating a “regis-
tered family home” and caring
for six children until March
1997.
  “It was then that her life was
turned upside down,” Garza’s
attorney told the jury, when she
was accused of injuring a two-
month-old baby.
  On March 12, 1997, Garza
reported to the baby’s mother
that the child had a rash on his
genitals. The child was taken
home and then taken to Doctors
Hospital some three hours later
where Dr. Louis Needleman
examined the infant.
  Ramirez also told the jury dur-
ing the opening statements
that the baby’s family went to
three doctors because they did
not agree with the physician
that the child was all right.
They saw the last doctor 17
days after Garza reported the
baby’s rash to the mother.
  Needleman was the first physi-
cian to take the witness stand for
the state Wednesday morning.
  Under        cross-examination,
Needleman said it was not until
the baby’s father told him the
child had been sexually assault-
ed that he performed an “alleged
sexual assault examination” or
“rape kit” on the child.
  Needleman said he would not
have performed the sexual
abuse examination on the child
based on his first observations.
  Needleman said the child’s
injuries could have been
caused by the diaper, while sit-
ting in a baby swing or by his
body rubbing against a rough
surface.
  The physician said he could
not tell where, when, how and
if anybody caused the child’s
injuries.
  Laredo Police Investigator
David Flores echoed that same
testimony.
  Flores testified that he was
following up the case but had
no idea who first classified the
investigation as sexual assault.
  Also taking the stand on
Wednesday was the child’s moth-
er, Jennifer Tyler, who testified
she picked up her baby around
5:30 p.m. at Garza’s home.
  Tyler added that Garza told
her about the baby’s rash and
that that she had placed pow-
der on the area.
  Tyler told the jury that her son
was fine when they got home
and the child was placed on a
swing while the family pre-
pared dinner.
  Some two hours later, when
the child was being given a
bath Tyler testified she noticed
that the child had a lot of pow-
der on his genitals. After wash-
ing it off, she and her husband
noticed the injuries, she said.
  Under cross-examination, Tyler
said she never scrubbed the
area, only soaked it with soapy
water to wash away the powder.
  Later in her testimony, Tyler
said she did not know at first
but now knows that the child’s
genitals were bitten.
  When asked by Ramirez if
she knew who had done it?
  Tyler answered it was either
Garza or someone in her
home.
  The mother admitted, howev-
er, that Dr. Needleman never
said the child had been bitten
nor did the police investigator.
  Tyler also testified the infant
never required any medication
after Dr. Needleman treated
the injuries.
  Tyler testified that Needleman
told her to let the baby sleep
without a diaper and give him
Tylenol and to keep him away
from pets and cigarette smoke.
  The mother also admitted that
the child would not require any
long-term medical care for the
injuries.
  Under cross examination
from Ramirez, Tyler also said
that on the evening that Garza
reported the rash, the baby
was fine, not crying, not show-
ing any stress and enjoying his
bath. The only thing she
noticed was that the baby was
not kicking as much.

				
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