Medical testimony dominates testimony in Lima infant abuse trial

·3 min read

May 25—LIMA — Jurors in the trial of Cheyenne Hooper, the Lima woman charged with inflicting the serious injuries suffered by her daughter in March of 2019, heard a wealth of medical testimony on the trial's second day Tuesday.

What jurors did not hear, however, was any evidence linking Hooper to the cause of those injuries.

Hooper is being tried on second-degree felony counts of felonious assault and endangering children that allege she knowingly and intentionally caused harm to her 7-month-old daughter, Lyla Stratton.

Three medical professionals testified Tuesday that injuries suffered by the infant at the family's Cortlandt Avenue residence on March 13, 2019, could not have been caused by a fall from a bed. That's the explanation given by Hooper to personnel at both Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center, where the infant was taken by EMS after the fall, and Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, where Lyla was LifeFlighted later that day for more intensive treatment.

Lauren Lathem, a licensed social worker at Nationwide whose primary job is to provide comfort and support to the families, said the medical team treating the 7-month-old girl ordered a "non-accidental trauma work-up" be performed on Lyla, standard protocol "when history being provided by the family doesn't match the severity of the injuries" shown by a child.

Dr. Catherine Huber, a child abuse pediatrician at Children's Hospital, testified the infant experienced bleeding on the brain, a brain shift, injuries to the neck area and retinal hemorrhages "that were not consistent with injuries from a simple fall."

Registered Nurse Morgan Grauel was working in the emergency room at Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center when the infant was brought in by paramedics shortly after noon March 13 with what was deemed to be a Level 1 trauma emergency, the highest priority in the ER.

Grauel testified that family members had told medical personnel the infant had fallen from a bed onto a carpeted hardwood floor. The nurse said Lyla Stratton was experiencing movement and activity levels that were "not normal" upon her arrival at the Lima hospital.

"At this point we knew we would have to send her to Nationwide because we don't treat this extent of pediatric injury at St. Rita's," Grauel told jurors.

Patrolman Logan Patton of the Lima Police Department testified that the LPD subsequently received a phone call from a representative at the Columbus hospital in reference to "a possible assault" of Lyla Stratton. Patton said the information was then turned over to detectives in the department.

Tuesday's testimony began with Evan Stratton, the infant's father and Hooper's former boyfriend. Defense Attorney Grant Neal asked Stratton about the ability of Hooper to lift heavy objects on March 13, 2019, referencing breast augmentation surgery she had undergone a week earlier.

"I believe doctors had recommended that she not lift anything heavier than five pounds but — while she was in some pain — she could do normal things on that date," Stratton testified.

Asked about his daughter's current medical condition, Stratton said Lyla is "doing pretty well" and is a "very happy 2-year-old."

Testimony in the trial is expected to continue into Friday.

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