This morning Lisa Randall, a client of Arizona Criminal Attorney David Michael Cantor, had her charges of first degree murder and aggravated child abuse dismissed with prejudice by Judge Michael Kemp. The dismissal with prejudice of this First Degree Murder case are a sign that common sense does still exist in Maricopa Law and is the culmination of over 3 years of heartache for Lisa and her family. The Law offices of David Michael Cantor are pleased that Lisa and her family are able to move on with her life. We have provided you with the letter that David Cantor sent to Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley’s office on June 30th. It describes the details of the case and why we argued for a dismissal. We invite you to leave comments and let us know what you think as well.
June 30, 2010
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
301 W. Jefferson Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85003
Re: Our Client: Lisa Randall CR2008-132791
I hope this letter finds you in good health. I am sending this letter to you per your request from when we spoke the other day on the telephone. I was also recently asked by the Prosecutor on this case, Belle Whitney, to prepare and provide a letter detailing the reasons why this case should be dismissed or pled to an extensively reduced charge. Therefore, I am also providing a copy of this letter to her. Hopefully, after reviewing all of these documents, we can sit down and resolve this case prior to the Final Trial Management Conference of July 22, 2010 as the Jury Trial is set for a firm start date of August 2, 2010.
In an article in the Arizona Republic in the Valley and State section published on May 13, 2009, addressing the recent dismissal by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office of a 4 ½ year old criminal murder prosecution against Craig Rettig, the reporter, Laurie Roberts, concluded by wondering, “[h]ow many Craig Rettigs there are out there.” (See Attachment 1, Article) I am writing this letter to alert you to at least one more “Craig Rettig” who is currently unjustly suffering a continuing murder prosecution based on flawed investigation and incorrect conclusions of the Peoria Police Department and Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Lisa Randall was being prosecuted by your office for capital first-degree murder for the death of a 4-month-old baby she was babysitting for approximately 1 hour in her Peoria home on April 18, 2007. Lisa is currently released pending trial, because the then trial court judge, Honorable Gary Donahoe, made the explicit finding following an extensive two day hearing on the matter that the evidence does not establish the requisite level of proof to justify holding Lisa Randall in custody as non-bondable. In fact, the judge alerted the prosecutors from your office, Belle Whitney and Jeanette Gallagher (who is no longer on the case), that he thinks “this is a tough case for the State,” and that he “read all of the information and the offer of proof. I can see this as a not guilty verdict at trial.” (R.T. 06/26/08, at 99.) The judge detailed that, while the death of an infant with contradictory medical findings is in itself enough to establish the very low burden of probable cause to allow the case to proceed, the evidence is not substantial and does not meet the “proof evident and presumption great” standard necessary to allow the State to hold Lisa in custody during the pendency of the matter. A small portion of Judge Donahoe’s ruling is as follows:
I’ve got the 911 tape and I agree with Mr. Cantor, I listened to that and that seems genuine. The best witness in this case is a five-and-a-half year old saying he didn’t see anything.
I know the State doesn’t have to prove any motive, but I think it goes to whether there’s substantial evidence that I don’t see any motive in this case. Ms. Randall has been in this business for what, 26 years or something. There’s no indication that she was mad or upset, no indication that she just had a fight with her husband or any of those children. I mean, what’s leading up to this shaken baby or dropping the kid on the floor or slamming the kid on the floor? This doesn’t quite rise to the level that the proof is substantial.
Despite Judge Donahoe’s explicit ruling alerting the prosecutors that he could see this as a “hung jury” or a “not guilty” at trial if the case proceeds, your office continues to this day to prosecute Ms. Randall. The trial is currently set for August 2, 2010. I offer some of Judge Donahoe’s findings early in this letter in order to alert you, as you read the pages that follow, that Lisa Randall is not a typical murder defendant “claiming” innocence, but is in fact one of those very few who have truly been unjustly accused.
It is important to note that Lisa Randall is one of eleven children in a Mormon family. She helped raise her brothers and sisters and helped her mom care for other people’s children throughout her childhood. After marrying young, Lisa went on to raise five of her own children, the youngest of whom is now 17 years old. She is a grandmother to 4 children. Lisa also ran a day care business out of her home on and off over a period of twenty-three years, until late 2007. The only instance during which she was not a home child care provider during that time was when she was a kindergarten teacher for Rancho Solano Private Schools. Her only prior contact with Law Enforcement was a single speeding ticket when she was 16 years old.
FACTS OF THE CASE
On April 16, 2007, the parents of one of the children Lisa usually watched, Dillon Uutela, a four-month-old, called to discuss a continuing fever Dillon had following vaccination shots he received a week before, on April 9, 2007. Dillon did not come to Lisa’s house on April 16, 2007, or for several days prior thereto, as a result of that fever. Thus, on the 16th, Lisa instructed Dillon’s mom to take Dillon back to the doctor, because Dillon should not have a continuing fever for such a lengthy period of time. Dillon’s mother then took Dillon to his pediatrician, Dr. Nicholas Pham at Surprise Pediatrics, who concluded, without any blood work or labs, that Dillon merely had “viral syndrome” and that he should return in a couple days if it did not clear up. (Bates 43, 51, 118, 124, 177, 430, 436, 162, 169, 187, 188, 371, 430, 436–437, 445, 459–461, 462–463, 497.)
At approximately 11:30 a.m., on April 18, 2007, Dillon was dropped off at Lisa’s home for the first time in several days. Dillon’s mom alerted Lisa that she had given Dillon Tylenol, and he remained in his car seat in the kitchen with Lisa during approximately the first 30 minutes of his stay, before being placed on a blanket in the middle of the living room floor in order to have “tummy time.” At least two older boys sat on the couch nearby as Lisa exited and entered the room a few times over a period of approximately 20–30 minutes and attended other children. The final time Lisa entered the room in order to change Dillon’s diaper and feed him, she found him to be unresponsive and not breathing, and she immediately phoned 911 and began CPR. Due to the fever that Lisa knew Dillon maintained ever since he had his vaccination shots, Lisa believed Dillon was having some type of reaction to those shots. The 911 recording verifies Lisa’s reaction. There were absolutely no outer signs of injury to Dillon’s body or head, but he remained unresponsive despite Lisa’s resuscitation attempts. (Bates 12, 170, 297, 331, 339, 414, 432, 439, 470, 652.)
The emergency crews and police arrived and Dillon was taken to Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in cardiac arrest, and then to Phoenix Children’s Hospital later that day. For some unknown reason, none of the information about Dillon’s prior vaccinations, fever, or two doctor’s visits (one being a mere 40 hours before 911 was called) were ever relayed to the treating physicians. Nor was this information relayed to the State’s experts who reviewed the case. They all went off the assumption that this child was perfectly “normal” when he was dropped off at Lisa’s house the morning of April 18th, 2007 and that he was not feverish or sick. Dillon was taken off life support the next day and passed away on April 19, 2007. The medical records and testimony from the Preliminary Hearing/Simpson Hearing establish the following:
- Dillon was admitted to Banner Thunderbird in cardiac arrest and was “down” for approximately 35 minutes, before he could be resuscitated. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 133-134.)
- Dillon had a tremendously elevated white blood cell (WBC) count of 28,000 upon his arrival at Banner Thunderbird. (Bates 642.)
- Dillon’s WBC count continued to escalate and, when Dillon was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, had risen to 34,200. (Bates 355-359.)
- These WBC counts are extremely high and do not fall anywhere near the acceptable normal range of 8,000-12,000. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 136.)
- On top of the WBC count, the “coagulation tests” were off and indicate possible Disseminating Vascular Cardiopathy. (i.e. D.I.C.)
- Dillon’s lymphocytic count was at 90% when normal is 40%. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 136-37.)
- There was an elevated Glucose reading at Banner of 278 and at PCH of 311, when the normal level is 110. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 137; Bates 356.)
- There was also a problem with the liver functioning (ALT of 116 when the upper limit is normally 40), and raised serum ammonia, which indicates possible encephalopathy. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 137-138.)
- Dillon’s CO2 was 9, which means he had hypoxia or lack of oxygen. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 137-138.)
- Dillon had cerebral edema and his brain continued to swell through the days of April 18th and 19th while he was receiving medical treatment. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 68.)
- CT scans were done in order to determine whether there was any fracture or bleeding in the brain. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 145.)
- No skull fracture appeared in the CT scan at Banner Thunderbird. (Bates 432.)
- No evidence of any intercranial hemorrhage, mass effect, midline shift, or extra-axial fluid collection, and no acute findings were noted from the CT scan at Banner Thunderbird. (Bates 432.)
- No skull fracture was found in the first CT scan done at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Dr. Beresini concluded the findings were consistent with an anoxic/hypoxic event, meaning lack of oxygen. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 154-55.)
- No skull fracture was clearly discernable in any CT scan at Phoenix Children’s Hospital per various neuroradiologist reads. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 95-96; Bates 652.)
- One radiologist at PCH noted on the second day a “left parietal skull fracture” in the last (i.e. Third) CT scan, which is interesting since Dr. Horn, the medical examiner, later stated that he found a right skull fracture. (Bates 360.)
- Any possible skull fracture was secondary to the brain swelling, and would have had to occur at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. (Bates 12, 170, 297, 331, 339, 414, 432, 439, 470, 652.)
- Dr. Kevin Horn of the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy following Dillon’s death, following which Dillon’s body was released for immediate cremation. (Bates 505–613.)
- Dr. Horn, did not address the fact that Dillon did not present with a skull fracture at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, but concluded nonetheless, that the cause of death was “blunt force trauma” to the head.
- Dr. Horn later testified in court that the massive head trauma was the type that “we see in motor vehicle accidents and falls from heights.” (R.T. 01/22/08, at 75.) Horn asserted that it would take “vigorous shaking and throwing to the ground, throwing against an object” to cause the injuries. (Id. at 80.)
- When confronted with the lack of any marks establishing the physical grip to the body necessary to establish a “shaken baby scenario,” Horn asserted, “there’s an impact involved. Not a pure shaking case….[p]robably striking against an object.” (Id. at 81.)
- Dr. Horn testified that it is “the norm in many child abuse cases” that there are no external bruises whatsoever on a baby’s head or body. (Id. at 75-76.)
- Dr. Horn further concluded that Dillon would not have appeared normal after the “injury,” so the impact had to occur during the one hour time period that Dillon was in Lisa’s care. (Id. at 77, 84–85.)
After this incident occurred, Lisa sat down and voluntarily spoke with Detectives at her house on April 19, 2007. Subsequently, she voluntarily went down to the police station on a second occasion. Lastly, she allowed the Detectives to interview her at her house on a third occasion. She did all of this without a lawyer and was completely open and forthright with the Detectives. Even though she fully cooperated, it still took the Deputy County Attorney seven months before this was brought in front of a Grand Jury. That indictment was found to be faulty, and the case was remanded for a second Grand Jury Proceeding. The second Grand Jury requested to hear from Lisa Randall personally, and when she was not allowed to change into civilian clothes (per Judge Donahoe’s order), the case was dismissed.
After the second dismissal occurred, Deputy County Attorney Jeannette Gallagher took an unprecedented step – she proceeded by way of Preliminary Hearing. Our research shows that a Preliminary Hearing on a Capital Murder Case has not been conducted in Maricopa County for almost 25 years. It is our belief that she proceeded by way of Preliminary Hearing because she felt that she might not receive the minimum number of votes from a Grand Jury in order to secure a True Bill, and she also believed that a judge would be hard-pressed to actually rule against the State in a Capital Murder Preliminary Hearing. It was immediately after the Preliminary Hearing that Judge Donahoe barely found the requisite probable cause to maintain charges, and told the prosecutors involved that he was releasing Ms. Randall on bond because “I can see this is a not-guilty verdict at trial.”
Since the Preliminary Hearing/Simpson Hearing was conducted, interviews of the State’s experts have occurred. During the interview of Dr. Underdahl, the State’s ophthalmologist, he was asked, “In this case, you’re saying there’s two real possibilities of what caused what you saw [retinal hemorrhages]. One would be abusive head trauma and one would be leukemia?” Answer: “Right.” Dr. Geyer reviewed Dillon’s case at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and stated in a report that his injuries were “most likely” the result of blunt force trauma. She stated in her interview that “most likely” does not live up to “medical certainty”, and was asked the following question: “And if you’re using ‘most likely’, then that is a lower standard which means ‘okay, maybe there are doubts here and there…’?”, to which she answered, “Yes.”
EXPERT REVIEW OF THE MEDICAL EVIDENCE
Dr. David Posey, a Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Pathology in Anatomical and Clinical Pathology and Forensic Pathology, a Board Certified Forensic Examiner and Medical Investigator, and a Diplomate of the American College of Forensic Examiners International has reviewed the case. Dr. Posey has conducted over 3600 total autopsies in his career, and 2600 of those have been forensic autopsies. Dr. Posey has issued a report documenting his conclusions in this case. Dr. Posey has also consulted with other renowned doctors in coming to his conclusions.
Dr. Posey considered all the evidence, not just the post-mortem information, and determined the following:
- Dillon had been suffering from a continuing fever for days prior to the 911 call, and had been seen by his doctor who concluded, without doing any blood or lab work, that a virus was at work.
- By the time Dillon became unresponsive at Lisa’s house two days later and was taken to Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, his significantly elevated white blood cell count and numerous other internal indications establish that he was suffering from “severe viremia (viral infection) or some other undiagnosed pre-existing condition” (such as acute leukemia).
- Included in those indicators are Dillon’s lymphocyte count, his anemia, his elevated liver function tests, his low serum albumin, his low serum total protein, his high blood glucose, his elevated coagulation tests, and his elevated serum ammonia, none of which can be attributed to any kind of trauma.
- In light of the CT imaging that shows no fracture at Banner Thunderbird or Phoenix Children’s Hospital on April 18, 2007, and only a possible fracture on April 19, 2007, at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, it is clear that any alleged fracture “occurred while Dillon was in the care and custody of competent medical authority and occurred after admission to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. [due to swelling]”
- The State’s Forensic Anthropologist Laura Fulginiti’s report indicates that the alleged fracture is “peri-mortem traumata,” which, by definition does not mean “pre-mortem trauma” as Dr. Horn seems to have interpreted it. Peri-mortem means “at or around the time of death,” [i.e. the next day in the hospital] not prior to the death.
- Any alleged skull injury was certainly not the cause of death and instead, occurred later and was “due to the sequelae of the underlying medical cause of Dillon’s sudden unresponsiveness, the subsequent cerebral edema, and medical manipulation during treatment.”
In addition, Dr. F. Ralph Berberich, M.D., F.A.A.P., a Pediatric Oncologist, reviewed all of the evidence and specifically Dr. Posey’s Report, and came to the same conclusion that this was not a blunt force trauma case. The Dr. specifically states:
“It would appear most likely that this baby, in recovery phase from a viral illness, had a SIDS-like event leading to apnea and cardiopulmonary arrest from which he was resuscitated. There followed the physical effects, laboratory abnormalities, and organ failure associated with profound and prolonged apnea.”
As to the issue of any alleged one millimeter skull fracture, Forensic Anthropologist Madeleine J. Hinkes, PH.D, reviewed all of the evidence. She is a diplomat with the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She specifically focused on Dr. Fulginiti’s Report (the Forensic Anthropologist for the State) and came to the following opinion:
“I cannot support a diagnosis of peri-mortem cranial fractures. I find Dr. Posey’s conclusions compelling, that the trauma derives from internal forces (brain swelling) rather than external (blunt force trauma).”
PROBLEMS WITH THE INVESTIGATION
From the beginning, Detective Kevin Moran and the Peoria Police Department focused their investigation on Lisa Randall rather than focusing their investigation on first determining the true cause of Dillon’s death in light of the lack of any apparent injury indicating any type of abuse. The examples of the City of Peoria Police Department’s “faulty investigation” and/or willful manipulation of the case, almost immediately, to assure that Lisa was charged with a crime she did not commit are overwhelming, and can be found throughout the vast amounts of discovery:
- Peoria Police Detective Kevin Moran was immediately assigned to lead the investigation, this was his first time as lead detective in a murder investigation. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 11, 48.)
- Within an hour after the 911 call was received; Detective Krause and Detective Facciotti of the Peoria Police Department arrived at Lisa Randall’s house and began speaking with eight (8) different parents who arrived in order to pick up their children who were currently being watched by Lisa, including Tara Uutela, Dillon’s mother. Detective Moran spoke with two (2) of the other parents.
- All of the parents, including the Uutelas (Dillon’s parents) attested that Lisa would never harm a child.
- Quote of Tara Uutela, mother of decedent:
“I asked Tara if she every had any concerns about Lisa caring for Dillon or if she ever expected Dillon was being abused. Tara said she did not have any concerns at all about Lisa. Dillon seemed to be happily thriving under Lisa’s care.” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 164.)
- Quote of Jill Beaumont, mother of Shealyn Beaumont:
“Jill said she has been bring her daughter to Lisa since May 1, 2006 [approximately one year]… Jill said she had no concerns at all about Lisa or about Shealyn’s care and said her daughter loved being at Lisa’s house. Jill never had any cause for concern of any kind. Jill said she is aware that Lisa watches ‘eight plus’ kids at various times.” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 165.)
- Quote of Brooke Ures, mother of Noah Ures:
“Brooke said she has been bringing her son to Lisa since January, 2007 [approximately three and a half months]… Brooke said she has never had a concern regarding Noah’s care while being with Lisa. He has never complained or had unexplained injuries and enjoys being with Lisa. Brooke said she believes Lisa babysits about eight children…” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 165.)
- Quote of Rene Ramirez, father of Anthony Ramirez:
“Rene said Anthony has been coming to Lisa’s house for babysitting for about nine months… Rene said he is not concerned about Anthony’s care at Lisa’s house and that Anthony has never said anything or showed any behavior that would alarm him. Anthony seems to enjoy being at Lisa’s house and he seems to be well cared for there.” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 166.)
- Quote of Jeanette Musengo and Ryan Oliphant, parents of Teagun Oliphant.
“Jeanette and Ryan both answered my questions. I learned that Teagun has been coming to Lisa’s house since about May, 2005 [approximately two years] when he was about three months old… Neither Jeanette nor Ryan have any concerns regarding Lisa’s care for either of their children. They said their children appear to love it at Lisa’s house.” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 166.)
- Quote of Conrad Rossi, father of Danik Rossi:
“Danik has been coming to Lisa’s house since March, 2006 (about thirteen months). Danik seems happy and well cared for with Lisa and there have never been any concerns.” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 166.)
- Quote of Connie Tirpak, mother Nicolette Tirpak:
“Nicolette has been coming to Lisa’s house for babysitting since January, 2007 [about three and a half months]… Connie said Niki seems to be happy and well cared for at Lisa’s house and she has never had any doubts or feelings that alarmed her.” (Detective Facciotti’s report, Bates 167.)
- Quote of Matthew Jimenez, father of Ruben Jimenez:
“Asked Matthew how long Ruben had receiving daycare from Lisa. Matthew advised me Ruben had been receiving daycare from Lisa for the last year and a half… Matthew said when he picks Ruben up he is always happy and he is always clean. Matthew informed me that he also noticed Lisa’s house is always in immaculate condition.” (See Detective Moran’s report at Bates 9-10).
- Quote of Carlissa Jimenez, mother of Ruben Jimenez:
“On April 19, 2007 I received a telephone call from Carlissa Jimenez. Carlissa said she wanted to talk to me after learning what happened at Lisa’s home. I asked Carlissa how long Lisa had been caring for her son. Carlissa said her son, Ruben, had been going to Lisa’s home for a year and a half. She said she had no problems with Lisa as far as daycare. When I asked if Ruben had ever come home with any suspicious injuries, Carlissa said no.” (Detective Moran’s report at Bates 14).
- Follow-up interviews with some of the parents indicate that Detective Bonnie Facciotti acted inappropriately toward the parents during her part of the investigation and clearly assumed the worst about Lisa despite the parents’ protestations to the contrary. At least two of the parents filed a formal complaint with the Peoria Police Department, and the parents were later interviewed by Facciotti’s superior, Sergeant Piccirello, regarding the detective’s misconduct. The parents later repeatedly called Peoria Police Department to see what happened with the internal investigation, and they were eventually told that Facciotti was informally reprimanded, but that the recordings of the parent interviews regarding the matter and the other paperwork regarding the complaint were somehow lost by the Peoria Police Department.
- Detective Moran asserted in his supplemental report that the ophthalmologist, Dr. Underdahl, found hemorrhages “consistent with acceleration/deceleration or enough force to crush a skull.” (Bates 3.)
- Detective Moran conveniently ignored and completely failed to report that Dr. Underdahl also found the medical evidence to be inconsistent concerning the alleged head/brain trauma. (Interview at Hospital, 4/18/07, 5:20 p.m.)
- Dr. Underdahl further stated that the retinal hemorrhages could have been up to 2 days old. (Bates 173.)
- Detective Webber admitted on the witness stand that he never heard anything about the CT scans or any alleged skull fracture when he was interviewing the various doctors regarding the brain swelling and retinal hemorrhaging at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 79-80.)
- Webber further testified about an investigation he recalled where the Peoria Police responded to another baby that the responding officers thought to be “shaken baby,” but which turned out to be a “congenital” issue “with bones and that and there was actually something that was completely medical” that explained it. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 75, 86-87.)
- Dr. Posey reports that it is clear that the “retinal hemorrhages” are due to “severe cerebral edema,” and, the “periosteal and subdural hemorrhages in the cervical spine in the absence of hemorrhage or injury to the spinal cord are a byproduct of disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (D.I.C.) and medical manipulation and these findings are not due to trauma.” (Emphasis added.)
- The two older children who were in the room when Dillon was laid down for “tummy time,” Anthony Ramirez and Blake Randall, were interviewed, and both independently asserted that nothing happened to Dillon and specifically nothing happened to Dillon’s head while he was at Lisa’s house.
- Both children witnesses who were in the home verify Lisa’s recollection of the day and they both insist that nothing happened to the baby due to any action by Lisa.
- Blake, who was interviewed by Dr. Phillip W. Esplin, Ed.D., stated that there were no accidents or events that occurred at Lisa’s house causing any distress to Dillon.
- Anthony, who was interviewed by Wendy Dutton of Childhelp, located in the Children’s Health Division of St. Joseph’s Hospital on April 26, 2007 (eight days after the incident), indicated that “Lisa was in the kitchen when Dillon got sick.”
- According to Anthony, Dillon was in the living room with him while he was watching television. He was on the couch at the time, and no other adults were present.
- Anthony was asked the direct question, if something happened to Dillon’s head. Anthony said, “No.”
- Anthony indicated that Dillon was making noise while on the floor but he could not describe it.
- Anthony also stated that Lisa gave Dillon medicine and that no one else besides Lisa helped Dillon.” (Bates 92, 93.) (Emphasis added.)
- Det. Moran never mentioned Anthony’s assertions to the Grand Jury when they were pursuing their initial charges against Lisa.
- Detective Moran did not mention any of the vast quantities of medical evidence that conflicts with or does not support Dr. Horn’s assertion of blunt force trauma.
- Moran’s omissions helped form the basis for the Remand that was ordered by Judge Donahoe in the original case, before the assigned county attorney determined to re-charge the matter via direct complaint and using the same faulty probable cause statement originally made by Moran.
- Peoria Police finally interviewed Dr. Pham, only after this case had been pending for months, dismissed once, and then recharged, and only in light of the pending hearing to determine whether proof was evident and presumption great in order to attempt to hold Lisa non-bondable. At the time that Detective Connolly finally contacted Dr. Pham, it was with the knowledge from the defense expert that Dillon likely died from acute leukemia or some viral infection. Despite this knowledge, Connolly asked Dr. Pham only if he recalled any symptoms of leukemia and Dr. Pham asserted “No.” Connolly did not ask Pham what symptoms he would have been able to visually note, nor did he do any follow-up about Dr. Pham’s complete failure to do any blood work or labs whatsoever when Dillon was brought to see him two days prior to going into cardiac arrest. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 98-99.)
Additionally, there are documented problems with the forensic doctor from PCH and the Medical Examiner’s conclusions regarding the existence and timing of any skull fracture that Peoria Police Department completely ignored:
- The Child Protective Service Case Agents assigned to investigate Dillon’s death, documented ongoing disagreements between the Detective and the State’s Doctors regarding the cause, timing, and even existence of the alleged skull fracture. (Bates 477-478.)
- Those disagreements only ended months later when Det. Moran affirmatively organized several meetings over which he presided and after which he reported that the doctors were now in agreement and he was going to “try and walk the case through charging and hopefully take it to Grand Jury.” (Bates 475-478.)
- Prior to that time, the State’s Forensic Anthropologist Laura C. Fulginiti had indicated to Moran that there was no skull fracture. (Bates 476-478.)
- Detective Moran finally admitted that he was aware of Dr. Fulginiti’s assertion when questioned about the matter at the June 25, 2008, hearing. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 37-38.)
- Dr. Horn and Fulginiti had both informed Det. Moran that “it is possible that Dillon was not hurt at the babysitter’s home.” (Bates 478.) (Emphasis added.)
- Detective Moran admitted that none of the actual treating doctors and neuroradiologists for Dillon were at the meeting Moran arranged wherein Dr. Fulginiti altered her prior findings in order to get “on the same page” as Dr. Horn and the forensic doctor, and assert that there was a skull fracture, and that it should be placed within the one hour time frame of having occurred at Lisa’s home. (R.T. 06/25/08, at 42-43.)
- The Defense repeatedly requested discovery regarding that closed door meetings during which Det. Moran and the doctors came to this new decision about the timing and existence of a skull fracture in May and August 2007, but has ultimately been informed that no notes of any kind were kept from the meeting, despite the fact that the discrepancies in the evidence were discussed and it was ultimately decided to charge Lisa Randall with murder following those meetings.
- Following the May meeting, Det. Moran asserted that “he is hoping that the babysitter will be charged with at least manslaughter.” (Bates 475-478.) (Emphasis added.)
- Child Protective Services supervisor Tracey Everitt was informed about the ongoing medical disagreements as follows: “there are differences of opinion with the doctor’s regarding the time frame for which Dillon could have been injured. Dr. Geyer is adamant that the injury occurred while at the babysitter’s home due to how fast Dillon decompensated; however, the medical examiner and the forensic anthropologist are not as certain.” (Bates 470, 477, 478.) (Emphasis added.)
- Despite the documented ongoing discussions with Child Protective Services Case Agents concerning the problems with the evidence against Lisa, none of this information was ever commented on in any of Det. Moran’s reports nor was it presented when he and the County Attorney determined to “walk the case through charging.”
The medical results clearly indicate a critical internal problem causing Dillon’s sudden unresponsiveness and death, and none of the assertions regarding an alleged “blunt force trauma” can explain or dissolve the import of the mass quantities of medical information establishing that this child very likely died from some- previously undiagnosed condition or virus. Because Dillon was in a weakened condition due to a prolonged viral illness (as evidence by his extremely high white blood cell count), and then he was placed onto his stomach for “tummy time”, he ultimately stopped breathing due to a SIDS-like event which led to respiratory and cardiac arrest. No external injury exists that would even suggest any blunt force trauma, or any abuse whatsoever, and again, the “pathological findings are not due to trauma, but are due to the sequelae of the underlying medical cause of Dillon’s sudden unresponsiveness, the subsequent cerebral edema, and medical manipulation during treatment.”
Dillon’s fever and doctor visit with the related “viral” infection diagnosed just 40 hours prior to the 911 call, along with the other medical results clearly establish that Dillon was, as Dr. Posey confirms, “a very sick little boy.” Despite this, the City of Peoria, the Peoria Police Department, the Medical Examiner’s Office and in particular Dr. Horn, have continued in a course of action leading to the improper charging of Lisa Randall for capital murder. This travesty of justice against Lisa Randall is based on a faulty investigation, and false conclusions and representations. This has occurred even though the entirety of the medical evidence, when viewed objectively, establishes that this child died as a result of some serious internal medical problem completely unrelated to any conduct on Lisa’s part.
As in Craig Rettig’s case, the Peoria Police Department did not do any real investigation into this baby’s death, but made a conclusion immediately and failed to ask any questions thereafter that would provide them with any information that might disprove their theory. As in Craig Rettig’s case, Lisa’s life has been all but destroyed by this charge. Not only did she lose many months of her life in custody that she will never get back, she also suffered serious health issues while incarcerated. Moreover, Lisa has devoted her life to raising her own children and to caring for the children of others. She has thus lost her livelihood as well as the joy and love she has received throughout the years in her role as caregiver. She will never be able to go back to being a babysitter even if this case is eventually dismissed with prejudice. Her family has suffered right along with her not only emotionally but also financially as they all try to provide financial support for her defense to the continuing case. To put it simply, Lisa’s life will never be the same, and the injustice of the charging decision only grows every day that the matter continues.
Lisa is the one who recognized that Dillon’s fever should be cause for concern two days prior to the 911 call. Lisa is the one who told Tara Uutela to take Dillon to the doctor. Lisa is the one who made the 911 call within an hour of Dillon’s being in her presence on April 18, 2007. Lisa is the one who immediately began CPR. Lisa is the one who did everything in her power to help Dillon and to alert medical personnel to Dillon’s health issues. Unfortunately, Lisa is also the one to suffer the burden of a wrongful prosecution due to the problems in the focus of this investigation right from the start. The wrongful conduct on the part of those who are supposed to serve and protect must be ceased and must be remedied. I am writing this letter to you in the hope of casting light on the matter and encouraging your office to rethink the continuing prosecution of Lisa.
Thank you in advance for your review and consideration of Lisa Randall’s situation. I welcome the opportunity to sit down and speak with you. I am available at any time and ask for the opportunity to have a face to face meeting with you and/or Belle Whitney. I can be reached via phone at (480) 858-0808.
LAW OFFICES OF DAVID MICHAEL CANTOR, P.C.,
David Michael Cantor
Attorney at Law
cc: Belle Whitney