Hearing centers on cause of death, defendant’s rights
GREAT FALLS — The family of Kaidynce Small — an 11-month-old baby who died Oct. 21 — showed up to the Great Falls federal courthouse Thursday to attend a hearing in the case of Cecilia Rose Gardipee, who is charged with murdering the baby.
The family members were wearing T-shirts that had Kaidynce’s photo printed on them above the words, “In loving memory of Kaidynce Evan Small, White Eagle Boy.”
Sobs were heard from the audience while the attorneys discussed the case and specifics of the child’s death were elaborated.
Gardipee, of Rocky Boy, is being accused of beating the child to death in her home where she lived with Small’s father, Garret LaFromboise. LaFromboise pleaded guilty to assaulting the child and will be able to avoid a murder charge if Judge Brian Morris accepts his plea by April.
In a court hearing in Great Falls Thursday, Gardipee’s attorney fought to have Gardipee’s charges thrown out or have the trial delayed.
The only witness called was Thomas Bennett, a pathologist from Billings, who the defendant’s attorney, Jeffery Foster, called as an expert witness.
The defense put an emphasis on what brought about the cause of Small’s death, which was brain hemorrhaging caused by a skull fracture.
The defense said that though there was evidence other injuries Small recieved were caused by “gripping” and “shaking,” there was no real evidence as to what could have caused Small’s skull fracture. The fracture could have been a number of things, he said. Examples the defense gave were a television or person falling on the child.
“What I see in the report is the mechanism of the injury is uncertain,” said Foster.
The defense argued that Gardipee may not have waived her right to a speedy trial if the prosecutors had supplied Kaidynce Small’s autopsy in a timely manner.
Gardipee was arrested Dec. 6. Evidence was to be submitted to the defense by Dec. 20, but the prosecution did not supply the defense with the medical examiner’s report until Feb. 14.
In Gardipee’s statement she had made to police, she admitted to covering the child’s mouth and shaking him for around 90 seconds. Gardipee and LaFromboise were intoxicated at the time of Small’s death and were the only ones around the child for an extended period, the police report said. The coroner’s report deemed that the cause of death was homicidal violence.
After being questioned by the defense attorney, Bennett said the medical examiner’s report does not necessarily say anything that supports the baby was shaken for as long as 90 seconds and shaking the child for this amount of time is unlikely, though there is evidence of some violent shaking.
Federal prosecutor Danna Jackson said the defense had recieved the autopsy in enough time before the trial. But not supplying the document earlier was an oversight on the part of the U.S. Attorney’s office, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor asked Bennett if the injuries that caused Small’s death, cervical trauma, could be caused by the child being violently shaken. Bennett said yes. The prosecutor had no further questions.
Judge Morris said he would issue an order shortly after the hearing. As of this morning, it was not filed, but will be sometime today, the judge’s receptionist said.