Autopsy photos show boy's torn liver, pancreas

Photo Provided

Family members of Maddox Abner provided this undated photo of the toddler. Jake Ryan Holman, 28, is on trial for Maddox's 2017 death.

Autopsy photographs of a toddler stomped to death shows his liver and pancreas were split into pieces and that he suffered for several minutes before dying, a former state medical examiner testified Friday.

The photos were shown to jurors as the child abuse murder trial of Jake Ryan Holman, 28, continued in front of Cleveland County District Judge Jeff Virgin. Holman is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend's 20-month-old son Maddox Abner late on Feb. 3, 2017 or during the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 2017.

Holman and the boy's mother, Cydney Cox, dated for about eight months before the child died.

Dr. Chrystal Van Dusen, who was a state medical examiner two years ago, testified she found numerous lacerations, abrasions and contusions on the boy's body as she performed the autopsy on Feb. 6, 2017. Injuries were discovered on the toddler's neck, chin, head, upper torso, shoulder, abdomen and back, according to Van Dusen.

During questioning from Assistant District Attorney SuAnne Carlson, Van Dusen testified the injuries are consistent with blunt force trauma to the internal organs, which created the tears to the pancreas and liver. The alleged blows also injured the child's right lung and his brain, according to photographs presented by prosecutors.

Van Dusen testified the head injuries produced areas of bleeding that merged together.

She also told jurors the child did not die instantly and that it likely took minutes for him to die as he laid alone in his bedroom.

During cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, defense attorneys have tried to advance the notion that the child died at the hands of his mother. However, earlier testimony showed the boy suffered a broken arm in December 2016 while under Holman's care. Cox was at work during that time.

As the autopsy photos were shown, Holman bowed his head and rarely looked at the monitor. At the same time, members of the victim's family weeped as the photographs were displayed.

Van Dusen, who now works as a clinical assistant professor in pathology at the University of Arizona, told jurors the abrasions, lacerations and the torn internal organs were the result of multiple strikes or blows to the boy's body and an increased amount of pressure to the abdomen.

The photographs of the liver and pancreas showed each organ was ripped apart into two pieces.

"There was a significant amount of force to the abdomen to tear the liver. I've seen injuries like this in car accidents," she said. "It's inconsistent with short falls or typical tumbles a toddler would take. There were multiple injuries and more than one impact site. There's no way one blow or one impact can cause these injuries."

The injuries caused massive internal bleeding, sending about 200 milliliters of blood into the abdomen, the autopsy report shows. The toddler weighed about 27 pounds and was 32 inches tall.

Van Dusen also said the injuries are not consistent with falling from a crib. The former medical examiner told jurors she has conducted about 2,000 autopsies including 100 on children.

The condition of the body presented the medical examiner with evidence that the child was on his back when he was beaten and later turned over on his stomach. Holman told Norman police he found the the boy lying facedown on the floor next to his crib about 8 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2017.

Cox told investigators she laid her son in his crib about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2017 and checked on him about midnight although she did not walk over to the crib for fear of waking him.

Cox told jurors she left her son with Holman late Feb. 3, 2017 to go buy marijuana that she and the defendant smoked. She was away from the Norman apartment for about an hour.

In other testimony Friday, Cox's former co-worker Hope Andrews told jurors about selling marijuana to Cox and the number of times Holman called looking for his girlfriend.

Andrews also testified she encouraged Cox to spend the night with her instead of staying with Holman. Andrews said she knew the couple had been drinking and was worried Holman would hurt Cox.

"I wanted her to go get Maddox and come back, not that anything would happen to Maddox, but Cydney herself," Andrews told jurors.

Under cross-examination, Andrews testified Cox would come to work "covered in bruises" every time Cox and Holman drank alcohol.

If convicted of the murder charge, the jury's punishment options are life in prison or live in prison without parole.

The trial will resume Tuesday with more prosecution witnesses scheduled to testify.

Tim Farley366-3539tfarley@normantranscript.com

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