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Pediatric Expert Witness Testifies in Texas Child Burn Trial

An expert in pediatric care testified this week in a trial of a 26-year-old Texas man charged with intentionally exposing his infant son to scalding hot water.  Prosecutors called the expert pediatrician to the stand to help prove that the child’s injuries were not accidental, but the result of an intentional abusive act.

Texas Man Charged with Bathing Child in Scalding Water

Efe Omo Idehen, 26, of Abilene, Texas is on trial for child abuse for allegedly exposing his then 11-month-old son a bath with scalding hot water three years ago.  According to prosecutors the defendant was well aware that the water temperature was dangerously hot for an infant, but put his child in the tub anyway because he was frustrated with the crying and the fact that he had to pay child support.  Idehen admitted during the investigation that the boy was crying while he was in the tub, but told police that he did not realize the full extent of the damage until he took the baby out of the water after several minutes.  The child has since received several surgeries and skin grafts to repair the severe burns, but has recovered from the injuries caused by being exposed to scalding hot water.

Prosecutors offered a plea agreement for 50-years in prison, but Idehen rejected the deal and instead asked the court for probation.  With the defendant’s counter-offer unacceptable, prosecutors started trial this week by presenting police and medical reports along with gruesome pictures of the scene of the incident and the infant’s injuries.  To bolster their contention that Idehen was fully aware of his actions prosecutors added testimony from a pediatric medicine expert witness who explained to jurors that the injuries were consistent with signs of child abuse.

Pediatric Expert Witness Testifies in Infant Burn Trial

Prosecutors in Abilene, Texas called a pediatrician with a specialty in child abuse to the stand to tell jurors that injuries to an 11-month-old infant were consistent with signs of abuse.  According to the expert, the pattern of burns on the baby’s legs were symmetrical, which suggests a deliberate action of putting the child in the water and holding him there.  The expert told jurors that had the baby been accidentally exposed to the scalding water then he would likely have had asymmetrical burn patterns which would be consistent with a fall or some other accidental entry.

The child abuse expert also pointed out that the infant did not suffer any splash marks, further suggesting a slow and deliberate placement in the water rather than a quick and unanticipated event.  During testimony, jurors also heard that the presence of a water line on the child’s skin indicated that his exposure to the scalding hot tub was not accidental, but intentional and part of a controlled action.  Finally, the prosecution’s pediatric expert witness told the jury that he had examined the now-toddler just before the trial began and saw skin grafts that indicated the burns were severe, deep, and damaging to the underlying tissue in the infant’s legs and feet.

Attorneys for Idehen have not revealed their plan for defense, but will likely focus their efforts on arguing their client was not fully aware of the harm he was causing until it was too late.  Idehen testified that it was common for his son to cry, so when he cried in the tub it did not indicate to the defendant that something was seriously wrong.  Idehen has not revealed whether or not he will take the stand in his own defense, but prosecutors will likely conclude their case in the next couple days which will give the defense an opportunity to present a case later this week.