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Dykstra has trouble recalling day of his son's hospitalization

BY ERIC MOORE | NOVEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Brian Dykstra told a jury Tuesday he doesn't remember what happened after his son passed out six years ago.

Dykstra was charged in 2008 with second-degree murder after he witnessed his 20-month-old adopted son vomit and pass out on Aug. 13, 2005.

"I went in there, and he was holding his head," Dykstra said. "I picked him up and was trying to comfort him, and that's when I remember the eyes rolling back and he just passed out."

Assistant County Attorney Beth Beglin asked whether he remembered what occurred when the first responders to his 911 call arrived at his house.

"I don't remember anything," Dykstra said. "I remember basically [my son] passed out in my arms and then being driven to the hospital in the back of a police car."

He focused the rest of his testimony on his relationship with his former wife Lisa DeWaard — who defended him Monday in her testimony — and the child they adopted from Russia.

Dykstra, a self-described "small-town country boy," said the time he and DeWaard had with their child was the happiest part of their relationship.

"It was like he was the glue to our relationship … everything we did, we did together," he said.

The victim's father described how they played with cars and balls, and he said they maintained their "connection" by looks and touch rather than speaking, because the child spoke Russian.

While describing himself, he mentioned he played a number of sports. When defense attorney Leon Spies asked whether he was any good, he smiled and said, "I could play," which caused some laughter his family.

"I always wanted to be the dad," he said. "To have a kid and be able to do those things and to be that type of a role model that my dad was for me."

After the defense rested, the state had a rebuttal, which included a testimony from Wayne State University pediatric radiologist Wilbur Smith, who said he specializes in abusive head injuries in children.

Smith, who said he has investigated for the FBI and U.S. Army, said the injuries he observed in the child occurred "somewhere within an hour of his collapsing."

"[The child] may have had a short fall, but the injuries that he suffered on the 13th were from a different trauma — a whole unique different set of trauma," Smith said.

Spies focused his cross-examination on discrepancies between Smith's findings and what other investigative officials found in regard to the injuries to the brain.

He asked Smith why he could not tell him the size of an injury inside the child's brain called a "subdural hematoma" and whether the other doctors' findings were inaccurate.

"I don't know how they could have been," Smith said. "I don't think anybody can tell you how large it was."

Spies then objected to a slide show intended to be shown by state witness Nasreen Syed, a UI clinical associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences.

Sixth District Judge Patrick Grady believed the complete slide show would be inappropriate and instead allowed a only a few photographs to be shown.

The photographs showed the child's eyes, which, Syed said, indicated "retinal hemorrhages," and they were "most likely a result of inflicted injury."

After both parties rested and the jury was sent home for the day, Spies moved to dismiss the case, saying the state hadn't provided sufficient evidence and the case didn't need to be submitted to the jury.

Assistant County Attorney Anne Lahey argued that the state had sufficiently made its case, and the judge overruled the motion.

Closing arguments will take place today in the Johnson County Courthouse.


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