Neuropathology expert Dr. Bennet Omalu has testified in the death case of Cameron Morrison.
In the case of the People v. Darnell Dorsey, Darnell Dorsey is accused of assaulting and causing fatal injury to Cameron Morrison, his girlfriend’s 20-month-old child. Dorsey is charged with California Penal Code 273a and 273ab. California Penal Code 273a makes it a crime for any person to cause suffering or death to any child and is punishable by time in county or state jail. California Penal Code 273ab makes it a crime for any person taking care of or in custody of a child under age eight to assault the child by force or produce bodily injuries to cause the death of the child. A violation of California Penal Code 273ab is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. Cameron was under Dorsey’s care when he was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead.
The People are represented by Deputy District Attorney, Michelle Serafin. The People called Dr. Bennet Omalu as an expert witness.
Dr. Bennet Omalu’s Background
Dr. Omalu is a physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, with a masters in Business Administration. Dr. Omalu focuses on Public Health and epidemiology, with an emphasis on the study of disease and movement. Dr. Omalu is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease he discovered while performing an autopsy on a former NFL football player. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in those who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. Dr. Omalu has performed over 8,000 autopsies since 1984 and is the Chief Medical Examiner in San Joaquin County.
Dr. Omalu was sent different samples from Cameron Morrison’s body from the medical examiner in the case. Dr. Omalu reviewed Cameron’s medical records and published his independent findings for the courts. Cameron was found to have severe brain trauma and a damaged hypothalamus. Dr. Omalu also examined Cameron’s other organs. He found evidence of contusions in the lungs, liver, and abdomen, which are often signs of child abuse. Dr. Omalu said that Cameron’s brain showed several signs of trauma, as evidenced by subdural hemorrhaging, brain swelling, and external injury.
Dr. Omalu’s Testimony
Dr. Omalu testified that Cameron’s cause of death was severe brain injury due to head trauma.
Under direct examination by Michelle Serafin, Dr. Omalu testified that, “There were axial and vascular injury from the trauma” and that the injuries to Cameron’s body could not have happened in the hospital. Dr. Omalu testified that “no physician makes a conclusion of child abuse based on one test or culture, a combination of tests are done in order to make the conclusion of child abuse” and concluded that the injuries on Cameron’s spine showed evidence of brain trauma and hemorrhage. Dr. Omalu also testified that Cameron’s death was caused by blunt force trauma of the brain, back (spine), torso and trunk.
Defense attorney, Joseph Gocke, handled Dr. Omalu’s cross-examination. Gocke attacked Dr. Omalu’s credibility, bringing up a 2009 story by a Scottish journalist that accused Dr. Omalu of false findings. Dr. Omalu responded that the journalist in question had been hired by the NFL to damage his credibility, because he had discovered that repeated head trauma causes brain damage.