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Montgomery County Coroner Says Red Flags Were Missed In Infant Death 20 Years Ago

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Brad Segall Brad Segall
Brad Segall is the award-winning Suburban Bureau chief at KYW...
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By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) - The Montgomery County coroner says an Upper Merion infant’s death nearly 20 years ago was not due to natural causes. He testified Wednesday at the trial of a former babysitter accused of murdering the child.

Day two of Melissa Haskell’s trial brought Dr. Walter Hofman to the stand. He was the coroner who made the call last year that Ryan Baurley was a homicide victim and didn’t die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which was listed as the cause of death in 1992.

Hofman says the cause of death was suffocation assisted by acute alcohol intoxication.

Prosecutors contend Haskell gave the crying baby alcohol to try to calm him down and then smothered him. He says the autopsy nearly two decades ago overlooked what he called red flags — liver, brain and kidney swelling.

Under intense cross-examination, Hofman stuck to his conclusions. The defense maintains he reached that conclusion only after prosecutors presented statements from Haskell’s ex-husband that she killed the baby.

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