Lawton_Julie Burt Gibbons, a Lawton woman charged with murdering her two-month-old baby, is going to trial. She claims her baby fell out of bed, but the prosecution says the injuries were too severe and consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) for the child's death to have been an accident. Judge Harris has ruled that there is enough evidence for her to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder.
In the Comanche County District Court on Wednesday, Dr. Cathryn Byers, who treated the baby in an Oklahoma City Hospital after he was first seen at Fort Sill's Reynolds Army Hospital, says Ransom arrived at the Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City with retinal hemorrhaging, a brain hernia, dilated pupils, and a bruised forehead. She said that those injuries were consistent with SBS. Defense Attorney John Zelbst argued that baby Ransom could have fallen from the bed, but Byers insisted that she had seen many accidental injuries, and Ransom's were far too severe for that scenario. Zelbst continued to argue that if, in fact, baby Ransom was a victim of SBS, he would have had neck trauma - and the child did not. He also noted that victims of SBS usually have two hemorrhaged eyes, and Ransom only had one. Prosecutor Eddie Valdez cross-examined Byers with regard to previous injuries. She stated that Ransom had healing rib fractures and an orbital fracture.
But the second witness had more shocking details to tell the court. Gibbons' soon-to-be ex-husband, Dustin Cody Gibbons, took the stand as Julie looked on. Dustin is Ransom's father and was not home at the time of the incident. He recalled that he was at a friend's house when he received the phone call about the injured baby. He testified that Julie had said she thought they should take the child to the hospital - that Ransom had fallen off of the bed.
Dustin testified that when he arrived home, Julie was sitting on the front porch smoking a cigarette, while baby Ransom was in his car seat ready to go to the hospital. He said that with one look at Ransom, he knew something was wrong. "It's like the lights were on, but no one was home," said Dustin. "His one eye was rolling, and he wasn't making a sound." Finally Zelbst asked Dustin whether he thought Julie was responsible for Ransom's death. "I honestly don't know anymore," he replied.
Dustin continued to testify that Julie was a good mother, and he had never witnessed her abusing their children. However, they are currently in the process of divorcing. The divorce is still pending.
Two other medical witnesses were subpoenaed but did not appear. Julie Burt-Gibbons will be formally arraigned next week before Judge Smith. Count on 7News to follow the case.