Charges Dismissed Against Elkins Man in Child’s Death
By CARRA HIGGINS, Staff Writer
February 13, 2008
The case against a Randolph County man charged with the death of a child by a parent guardian or custodian by child abuse, a felony, was dismissed Monday by Randolph County Circuit Court Judge John Henning. Prosecutor Frank Bush filed the motion to dismiss the charges against Jeffery Galford without prejudice after a state medical examiner said he was uncertain of the child’s cause of death.
Although the child died in 2003, Bush said he did not receive an autopsy report from State Medical Examiner Dr. James Frost until shortly after he was appointed as prosecutor in 2006. Galford was indicted in early 2007.
According to court records, Galford was living with the infant’s grandmother, who had custody of the child. On Jan. 15, 2003, Galford was alone with the infant just before the child was taken to Davis Memorial Hospital, Bush explained. The infant was then taken by helicopter to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown where he was later pronounced dead, Bush said.
Frost conducted an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide as the result of shaken baby syndrome, Bush said. It was that autopsy report that Bush did not see until 2006.
Frost was to testify for the prosecution, but after reviewing the infant’s medical history from DMH and West Virginia University Hospital he determined there could be no medical certainty of a homicide, Bush explained. The infant’s full medical history was not available to Frost at the time of the autopsy. However, after reviewing the records in preparation for the trial, Frost said he could not testify that shaken baby syndrome or another intentional act was the cause of the child’s death, according to the state’s motion to dismiss.
“I cannot now support to a reasonable degree of medical certainty the opinion given in my autopsy report,” Frost wrote in a letter to Bush. “I further cannot now state with any degree of medical certainty what was the cause of the bleeding in this infant.”
In the state’s motion to dismiss, Bush explained that there was not enough evidence to go forward with the case without expert testimony. There were no eyewitnesses to testify and the other evidence was circumstantial, Bush said.
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