BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – During afternoon testimony by an Arkansas state medical examiner, Mauricio Torres’ defense team moved for a mistrial after a statement it deemed “prejudicial.”
Dr. Stephen A. Erickson has worked as a medical examiner at the state crime lab since 2007 and he conducted the examination and autopsy of Torres’ son, Isaiah. After explaining his credentials, career and professional responsibilities, Dr. Erickson moved on to the specific topic of his examination of the boy.
He described numerous clear injuries and wounds, and said that “no reasonable person” would have ignored these. After explaining that he sees from four-to-eight deaths annually due to child abuse.
He then called this particular instance “one of the worst” he has seen during his career. Defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig immediately called for a sidebar. After speaking briefly with the attorneys, Judge Brad Karren sent the jury out and called a recess.
The defense moved for a mistrial based on the “prejudicial” statement and said that it would be “impossible to cross-examine” without seeing all of the other autopsies that the doctor had seen during his career.
Prosecutor Nathan Smith said that there was “no intent” to elicit any prejudicial statement, and that calling a mistrial would be a “drastic remedy.” Judge Karren returned to his chambers to consider the matter and he invited both sides to present relevant case law to the court.