ONGOING TRIAL – Evan Caswell Gilmer

Boy died of head injury, experts testify

The death of an 18-month old boy in 2008 was a result of severe head trauma, according to a number of medical experts, who testified in the Evan Caswell Gilmer trial taking place in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

Gilmer, 33, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 18-month-old Garth Leippi. The incident happened in Red Deer in October of 2008.

Gilmer was living with Garth’s mother, Jennifer Gladue at the time, but was not the boy’s biological father.

At about 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2008, Red Deer City RCMP were called to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre after Garth was transported by ambulance from an apartment building in the 4800 block of 46 St.

RCMP said Garth was suffering from injuries that were “suspicious” in nature.

About 30 minutes later, homicide detectives from the local RCMP detachment were called in to investigate.

The boy was transported by STARS air ambulance to a Calgary hospital with life threatening injuries. He died about 30 hours after he was first admitted into the Red Deer hospital.

In court last week, Dr. Evan Matshes, an autopsy pathologist in Calgary, preformed an autopsy on Garth after he died. He discovered Garth had suffered from blunt head trauma.

“Garth would have been immediately abnormal once this trauma occurred. He would have been dying,” he testified. “This is not the type of trauma you see with at-home injuries. You see this with children who have been assaulted, run over by vehicles or have may have fallen from great heights.”

Matshes, who was in his fifth year of residency training at the time of Garth’s autopsy, said the boy also had extensive fractures in his skull.

“He had smash-type fractures and his injuries were acute – they were fresh injuries. His brain swelled because of trauma. He had classic complications from brain trauma. He had a profound brain injury.”

Tara Rhodes, a social worker at the Children’s Hospital in Calgary spent about 13 hours with the family when Garth was flown in by STARS air ambulance in October 2008.

“I met with the family when they were in the ER department. They were quite upset,” said Rhodes. “I told them Garth’s injuries were severe and that there was concern about him surviving. The paternal grandparents were begging for answers.”

She added during the hours she spent with the family, Gilmer seemed withdrawn.

“He was removed from the group and wasn’t at Garth’s bedside all the time. He was standing off to the side most of the time. You could tell Evan was an outsider in the group.”

Rhodes testified that when Garth was to be baptized before the family took him off life-support, she was asked to tell Gilmer that he wasn’t welcome to be involved in the baptism.

In the first week of the trial, court heard that Gladue was sleeping in the basement suite she shared with Gilmer, her then common-law spouse, on the night the boy was sent to hospital. Gilmer had brought Garth from his bedroom to the living room after the boy had thrown up. The jury was told Gilmer went outside for a cigarette and when he came back inside their home, he fell on the boy when he attempted to pick him up.

Matshes testified he was told during the boy’s autopsy that Gilmer was reportedly sleeping on the couch with Garth when the boy fell off. Gilmer allegedly attempted to pick the boy up off the floor but fell on him, put his hand down to support himself but pushed his hand into Garth’s head. He said if a man Gilmer’s size did support himself on a toddler, the injury could be possible.

Closing arguments for the trial are expected to take place on Friday with jury deliberations beginning on Monday.

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