BREAKING: In Oneida County, Tran case goes to the jury
By Eileen Persike
Closing arguments were heard and the jury sent to deliberate shortly after 12:30 Thursday afternoon, to decide whether Ellen Tran is guilty or innocent of first degree reckless homicide in the death of her stepson, 20-month-old Avery Edwards.
Earlier in the day defense attorney Jonas Bednarek called three witnesses, two of them Trung Tran’s exes. The women testified to the man’s abusive behavior, something Bednarek said in his closing argument adds up to reasonable doubt, along with what he said was “an extraordinarily high number” representing the amount of pseudoephedrine in Avery’s system.
“Am I telling you that Avery Edwards overdosed on pseudoephedrine? I’m telling you I don’t know. I don’t know,” Bednarek said. “But it’s not my job to prove that he did. It is a possibility, certainly.”
He also said the only people who think they know what happened [the night Avery died] is the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, saying they stepped in “right out of the gate,” and pointed the finger at Ellen Tran, without testing other theories.
Before Bednarek gave his final defense of Ellen Tran, Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek took the jurors through each witness, pointing out what he said was “corroboration” that Tran is responsible for the boy’s death on April 14, 2017. After showing jurors a series of photos that were admitted into evidence, Schiek told the jury to use common sense in reaching a verdict.
“Expert testimony, but more important I think is the photographs in this case, they say a picture speaks a thousand words and that’s really the importance of these photographs so you can see for yourselves,” Schiek said. “This is the tangible evidence, common sense tells you, you can use that in your decision making, as the judge has instructed.”
In day three of the trial, Wednesday, in branch one of the Oneida County Circuit Court, the jury heard from the medical examiner that performed the autopsy on Avery Edwards.
Dr. Douglas Kelley testified to the process he undertook to arrive at his finding that the cause of Edwards’ death was blunt force trauma to the head. Ellen Tran told law enforcement during an interrogation that the boy slipped in the shower.
“The documentation of the various injuries is something like a puzzle, where when you put various pieces of the puzzle together the picture becomes more clear,” Kelley said, adding that looking at the bruising with the naked eye showed the areas of hemorrhaging and swelling of the brain, but looking microscopically “helps to determine if there is evidence or a pattern that is indicative of a trauma so it all supports a diagnosis of blunt force traumatic injury.”
In response to Bednarek’s suggestion that Avery’s death could be the result of a high amount of pseudoephedrine in his system, Kelley disagreed.
“In this particular case that would be immaterial to the head injury, which was the actual cause of death,” Kelley said.
Though Tran was the only adult at home at the time of Edwards’ injury, Bednarek suggested it could have occurred earlier in the day, while Trung Tran, was at home. Kelley’s testimony disagreed, saying he believes the boy would have been “different if not completely unconscious from the time the injury occurred.”
District Attorney Michael Schiek asked Kelley about the findings of retinol hemorrhages noted in his report. Kelley said “in a case like this, it is more support that a lot of injury was involved here.”
In his cross examination, Bednarek questioned Kelley about an email between him and the Oneida County medical examiner following the autopsy. In the email, Kelley writes that “the rationale for the manner relies on the investigation, NOT the autopsy.”
Asking what he meant, Kelley said it’s all part of the puzzle.
“Some people think that the autopsy is like a black box; autopsy this body and suddenly the entire story unfolds before you. An autopsy is not like that,” Kelley said, adding, “I can only tell you whether the story provided matches the findings. I rely on the other investigators to come up with that information.”
Follow StarJournalNow.com for more news on the trial, including the jury’s verdict.