On Appeal from the 265th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. F10-01245-R
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin Richter Justice
Before Justices Bridges, Richter, and Lang
Opinion By Justice Richter
A jury convicted appellant of injury to a child, made a deadly weapon finding, and sentenced him to life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. In a single issue on appeal, appellant asserts the trial court erred in denying his motion to exclude the testimony of the State's bite mark expert. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
On December 17, 2008, appellant brought his five-month-old son to the emergency room with multiple traumatic injuries. The family reported that the child had simply stopped breathing while appellant was feeding him. Although the child had no heart rate and had stopped breathing, he was resuscitated.
The child had severe head and neck injuries, including hemorrhaging and tissue swelling on his brain. He also suffered retinal hemorrhaging.
The ligaments supporting the
child's upper neck were torn,
detaching the base of the skull from the spine. In addition to
the head and neck injuries, the child had approximately forty broken bones in his shoulders,
arms, hands, legs, and feet. He also had bruising and swelling on his head, face, hands, and
feet, and bruising and bite marks on his elbows and knees.
Appellant, the child's father, told the police that he was alone in the bedroom with the child when he stopped breathing. Ruthy, the mother of the child, and Joe, Ruthy's father, were elsewhere in the home.
Dr. Matthew Cox testified at trial that the child's neck injury was the worst he had ever seen in an infant, and could only have been caused by a severe whiplash event that would have caused the child to immediately stop moving and breathing. Dr. Cox opined that the head and neck injuries were caused by a violent shaking, and the child's serious bodily injury was intentionally inflicted. He also opined that the injury was caused by whomever was alone with the child at the time the injury occurred.
Dr. Robert Williams, a practicing dentist and board-certified odontologist analyzed the bite mark evidence in the case. As a result of his analysis, Dr. Williams eliminated Ruthy and Joe as persons who could have inflicted the bite marks, but could not exclude appellant. Prior to trial, appellant moved to exclude Dr. Williams's testimony, alleging that forensic dentistry does not meet the requisite guidelines for the admission of scientific expert testimony. After conducting a hearing on appellant's motion, the trial court ruled that the testimony was admissible.
Dr. Williams was among the witnesses who testified at trial. Upon conclusion of the trial, the jury found appellant guilty of injury to a child, made an affirmative deadly weapon finding, and sentenced ...