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Doctor testifies ‘unreasonable amount of force’ injured 46-day-old infant

Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

A doctor testified Tuesday when he picked up 46-day-old Kaitlyn Holderfield, he could feel a crunching of her left rib and the rib cage seemed to move separately from her body.

Dr. Joshua Pruitt, a St. Luke’s Hospital emergency room physician, said Kaitlyn’s acute or “fresh” rib fractures were unusual and was caused by non-accidental trauma – child abuse. The infant was fussy, crying and couldn’t be consoled, which indicated she was in a lot of pain.

Kaitlyn’s father, Timothy Holderfield, 25, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with child endangerment causing serious injury. He is accused of causing Kaitlyn’s injuries Jan. 20, 2011. She suffered rib fractures, a broken clavicle and bruising on her face and chest.

The trial started Monday in Linn County District Court. The state is expected to wrap up its case today, and the defense could start this afternoon.

Pruitt testified an infant’s bones are pliable and aren’t easy to break.

“It would take an unreasonable amount of force to break the ribs,” he said.

Pruitt said he was also concerned about where the rib fractures were, in the posterior or back area, which is unusual to see in an infant.

Kaitlyn also had bruising on her face that was consistent with someone grabbing her face and squeezing it. He pointed out the pattern of a thumbprint and fingers on the infant’s face in a photo to the jury. There was also bruising on Kaitlyn’s chest, which fits a pattern of the wall chest being squeezed.

Pruitt said Holderfield couldn’t explain the injuries. He said Kaitlyn was fussy that night and he feed her, burped her and when he went to lay her down he heard a “popping” noise.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden asked if the injuries could be from burping or swaddling a baby.

Holderfield told a police officer he may have swaddled her too tightly, according to testimony from Monday.

Pruitt said the bruising pattern didn’t fit swaddling or burping. These injuries required “a lot of force,” Pruitt testified.

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