Radiologist describes toddler's brain injury in James Turpin's manslaughter trial

·2 min read
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. (Court exhibit - 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. (Court exhibit - image credit)

Blood clots inside two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan's brain raised concerns the child sustained injuries from some sort of rapid back and forth motion, according to a radiologist who worked at the IWK in 2004.

Dr. Matthias Schmidt testified by video call Tuesday afternoon in the manslaughter trial of James Turpin, who is accused in the toddler's death, which happened 17 years ago.

"It has to involve a rotational component," Schmidt said. "Acceleration, deceleration because veins in the brain have to tear … to emit blood."

Turpin, who has already been found guilty once for Kennedy's death and successfully appealed the verdict, has claimed since 2004 the toddler died after falling and hitting her head in the bathtub.

During his testimony, Schmidt reviewed 26 CT and MRI scans performed on the toddler's brain at the Halifax hospital in 2004.

The images revealed blood clots, water content and swelling that worsened the week leading up to her death. He said cells inside the brain were dying because they were running out of oxygen and blood supply.

"This is the sort of appearance that is not survivable," Schmidt said after reviewing a photograph the day before Kennedy died.

Schmidt said Kennedy suffered some kind of trauma to the left side of her brain before she died.

"That constellation of findings lead me to believe that a head injury had occurred," Schmidt told the court.

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. (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC)

The toddler was taken off life support on April 9, 2004, after suffering a severe brain injury at her home in Central Blissville, about 30 kilometres southeast of Fredericton.

The IWK also performed a "skeletal survey" of Kennedy's body, which examined her bones through X-rays.

Schmidt said he was looking for fractures but didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

Accused present by phone

Turpin was present by phone at Tuesday's trial because he wasn't feeling well. The court was also delayed in starting Tuesday afternoon, because of technical issues.

Turpin wasn't charged in Kennedy's death until 2015, when he was living in Charlo. In 2016, Turpin was found guilty of second-degree murder but three years later, he successfully appealed his conviction.

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

On Monday, Court of Queen's Bench Judge Terrence Morrison heard from one of the doctors who cared for Kennedy at the IWK. The court also heard from a social worker in Halifax who spoke with Turpin while Kennedy was in hospital.

This marks the third week of Turpin's four-week manslaughter trial, which is being heard by judge alone.