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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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