2-year-old Kennedy Corrigan showed signs of shaken baby syndrome, doctor testifies

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Two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan suffered a massive brain injury on April 2, 2004, and died a week later at the IWK Hospital in Halifax. (Submitted - image credit)
Two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan suffered a massive brain injury on April 2, 2004, and died a week later at the IWK Hospital in Halifax. (Submitted - image credit)

When two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan was rushed to hospital in Fredericton, the toddler showed signs of shaken baby syndrome and not of a fall, says the pediatrician who examined her.

Dr. Ramaiyer Krishnaswamy, who works at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, testified Friday at James Turpin's manslaughter trial.

"In my opinion, shaken baby would fit with the clinical findings, which is quite severe," he said.

Turpin, 41, is on trial for manslaughter in the toddler's death 17 years ago at her home in Central Blissville, about 30 kilometres southeast of Fredericton. He has always claimed Kennedy was injured falling backward in the bathtub.

Dr. Ramaiyer Krishnaswamy, the pediatrician who examined Kennedy  on April 2, 2004, did not feel her brain injuries were consistent with a fall in the bathtub.
Dr. Ramaiyer Krishnaswamy, the pediatrician who examined Kennedy on April 2, 2004, did not feel her brain injuries were consistent with a fall in the bathtub.(Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Krishnaswampy said a CT scan revealed a large hemorrhage in her brain, hemorrhaging outside the brain, and blood between the two halves of the brain. There was also evidence of brain swelling.

"It was fairly extensive," he testified.

The pediatrician examined Kennedy for about an hour and noticed she didn't have any other injuries on the outside of her body that would suggest a fall or accident of any kind.

In cases of brain injuries caused by accidents, there is usually trauma to other parts of the body, which Kennedy did not appear to have, Krishnaswamy said.

"In order for a fall to cause multiple hemorrhage in the brain, there would be other injuries immediately apparent."

Doctors in Fredericton decided Kennedy should be airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

"She was just unresponsive."

The toddler was taken off life-support a week later and died on April 9, 2004.

Kennedy was a healthy child

Based on her history, Krishnaswamy said, Kennedy was a healthy child before the incident.

The pediatrician also spoke with Turpin while Kennedy was at the Chalmers hospital.

He said Turpin told him he had taken Kennedy and his own three-year-old daughter to the bathroom. He saw his daughter run out of the bathroom, and that's when Kennedy fell backward and hit the bottom or edge of the tub.

Turpin told the doctor he immediately took her out of the tub but she was unresponsive. He didn't know how to perform CPR, so he rushed her to a neighbour's house and 911 was called.

"He was very upset," Krishnaswamy said.

The doctor testified that Turpin told him he'd wanted to wash her hair that day because she was sick the night before.

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham pressed Krishnaswamy about the possibility of a child dying from a stroke or a ruptured blood vessel.

A jury found James Turpin guilty of second-degree murder following a three-week trial in 2016. After an appeal in 2019, a new trial was ordered. This time he's on trial for manslaughter.
A jury found James Turpin guilty of second-degree murder following a three-week trial in 2016. After an appeal in 2019, a new trial was ordered. This time he's on trial for manslaughter.(CBC)

Krishnaswamy responded that in theory it could happen, to which Gorham asked whether the doctor understood the "severity of the trial."

"Jail is in the cards if convicted," the doctor said replied.

Turpin, of Charlo in northern New Brunswick, has already been found guilty once for Kennedy's death and successfully appealed the verdict.

The Court of Appeal found there wasn't enough evidence of murder and ordered a new trial on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The trial is the end of its second week and is being heard by judge alone.