Mother's Defense Begins Child Had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Doctor Says

By Spak, Kara | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 15, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Mother's Defense Begins Child Had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Doctor Says


Spak, Kara, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kara Spak Daily Herald Staff Writer

Irma and Dino Pavlis spent only a few hours in a Russian orphanage's office with the two children they wanted to adopt before they were allowed to take them home to Schaumburg.

They knew Alex, 6, and 5-year-old Julia's biological mother drank alcohol while she was pregnant. They didn't know that could have caused the flat features, like the ones on Alex's face, or his fused toes and curved pinky fingers, a pediatrician and Dino Pavlis Thursday separately told jurors assigned to decide his wife's guilt or innocence in Alex's death.

Nor did they know sufferers of fetal alcohol syndrome often act out, like Alex did, with fits of rage, wild mood swings and repeatedly banging their heads on walls.

They didn't know that the lonely life of a Russian orphan, where 30 children sleep together in a small room, could exacerbate those behaviors, the doctor and Dino Pavlis said.

They learned this later, after a long trip back from Russia and five tough weeks with Alex and Julia living in their two bedroom apartment on Mercury Drive.

They learned this after Irma Pavlis, 34, was arrested and charged with killing Alex in a fit of violent rage on Dec. 18, 2003. She's charged with two counts of first degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

Julia was taken away from the Pavlis' home by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Dino Pavlis visits his wife once a week in Cook County jail, where she is held on a $3 million bond.

He testified in court Thursday about their two miscarriages and their two trips to Russia to grow their family. For $11,000, he said, a Russian child broker secured the adoptions of Alex and Julia, whom the Pavlises found on the Internet.

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