Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Katelynn Sampson Struck So Hard Her Liver Ruptured, Pathologist Tells Inquest

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Katelynn Sampson Struck So Hard Her Liver Ruptured, Pathologist Tells Inquest

Article excerpt

Girl hit so hard her liver ruptured: pathologist

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TORONTO - A seven-year-old Toronto girl fatally abused by her guardians would have been in severe -- and noticeable -- pain for some time after being struck so hard that her liver ruptured, the inquest into her death heard Tuesday.

Katelynn Sampson's autopsy showed a piece of the organ had completely detached and migrated to her pelvic area, the forensic pathologist who examined her body said.

"I've done a lot of autopsies...I've never seen this phenomenon before. I've never heard of this phenomenon before," Dr. David Chiasson testified.

It would take a "very, very significant amount of force" to cause such damage, he said, adding that liver injuries are sometimes seen in victims of car crashes.

Katelynn also suffered several rib fractures, bruises and lacerations on her face and limbs in the weeks and months before her body was found on Aug. 3, 2008, he said.

Autopsy photos presented at the inquest showed she had a black eye, her body was swollen and she had significant pooling of blood in her lower back.

There was also scarring on her heart, which is "very unusual for a seven-year-old," but that was probably a complication of her other injuries, the pathologist said. There was no evidence of a brain injury or sexual assault.

The bruises on her face "would have been evident" to others, and it would have been clear from Katelynn's behaviour that she was in severe -- possibly excruciating -- pain, Chiasson said.

But none of her injuries would have been fatal had she received medical treatment, and the complications from those injuries killed her, he said. Shock and bacterial infection, likely stemming from a deep laceration on her finger, were among the causes, he said.

Katelynn's last visit to the doctor was in the fall of 2007, when she was already living with her guardians, Donna Irving and Warren Johnson, though they had not yet obtained custody, the lead investigator in the case testified. …

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