Expert at Pa. trial: Russian boy didn't hurt self

AP News
Posted: Sep 07, 2011 5:47 PM
Expert at Pa. trial: Russian boy didn't hurt self

A forensic pathologist testifying in the trial of a couple charged with killing their adopted son from Russia said Wednesday that the 7-year-old didn't cause the injuries that killed him, as his parents have claimed.

Testifying for the prosecution, Dr. Wayne Ross also told the jury that "severe, significant failure-to-thrive or starvation" contributed to the death of Nathaniel Craver in August 2009, The York Dispatch reported.

The trial of Nathaniel's parents, Michael and Nanette Craver of Dillsburg, is in its second day. They adopted him and his twin sister from a Russian orphanage in 2003.

Ross said the boy's legs were as thin as pencils, bruises covered his torso and back and his brain showed widespread evidence of blunt-force trauma. He said torn muscles around Nathaniel's shoulders and pelvis _ some of them fresh _ indicated someone yanked or pulled on him.

The Cravers' lawyers have argued that the child's injuries were self-inflicted, triggered by fetal alcohol syndrome and reactive detachment disorder, but Ross said he ruled that out during the autopsy.

His "conglomeration of injuries (were) due to the direct action of another, and not due to self-abuse," Ross testified.

The York Daily Record reported that on cross-examination, Ross said he saw no neurological evidence of fetal alcohol syndrome.

The Cravers sought medical help for him repeatedly in the years before his death, their lawyers have said.

Severe flooding in the area caused the trial to adjourn for the day in late afternoon.

Michael Craver, 46, and Nanette Craver, 55, have been held without bail since they were arrested in February 2010 after an autopsy revealed Nathaniel had about 80 external injuries, including 20 to his head. They face charges including criminal homicide and endangerment.

The boy's twin sister went to live with a family member after her parents' arrest, The York Dispatch reported in October 2010.

The death has been monitored by officials in Russia, which in July signed a treaty giving it more authority to monitor adopted children after they arrive in the United States.