Most of the time preliminary hearings are where you get a sense of what kind of case prosecutors have assembled against a defendant.
But now and then, the defense also tips its hand a bit.
Such was the case Thursday during the preliminary hearing for Michelle Dosdall, a Peyton woman accused of first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of her 3-year-old adopted son Tristan.
Prosecutors contend that Dosdall’s account of what happened that night was inconsistent with the extent of the boy’s injuries.
Dosdall told El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies that she had been giving the boy a bath, left him in the bathroom to grab his pajamas, heard a thud and returned to find him on the floor crying on the linoleum floor.
Doctor Paul Grabb, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Memorial Hospital said that doesn’t explain the bleeding on the boy’s brain. Even if the floor were made of concrete, it wouldn’t matter, he said.
“There’s not a scenario in the house that would lead to an injury like this,” Grabb said.
Defense attorney Rick Levinson, however, hinted at a different scenario as he cross-examined lead investigator Ralph Losasso.
He started by asking Losasso why the autopsy failed to reveal evidence of trauma.
Then he asked if the coroner gave an explanation of how the internal bleeding on the boy’s brain had occurred.
No, the detective replied.
How did he know then how the boy died?
“I can tell you what your client told me and what the doctors said,” Losasso replied, alluding to a statement by Dosdall that she shook the boy by the shoulders.
Then Levinson asked if the detective knew that the boy had a history of a blood clotting disorder. Such a condition might make the youngster more susceptible to bleeding on the brain as the result of a lesser blow, Levinson suggested.
“That never came up in the investigation,” Losasso replied.
The defense lawyer added that the boy also had a history of bruises and a weakened right side.
“He fell a lot,” Levinson said.
“All children fall,” the detective later added.
“Particularly children with a right side weakness,” Levinson said.
After hearing more than 3 hours of testimony, Fourth Judicial District Judge Scott Sells recessed the hearing. Testimony will resume on Wednesday.