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'Nightstick fracture': Doctor testifies about broken bones suffered by Laila Daniel

Doctors said the toddler's injuries were very painful and required a lot of force to create.

MCDONOUGH, Ga. — The murder trial for the two foster parents accused of killing a 2-year-old girl continued Tuesday as more witnesses took the stand. 

Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum said Laila Daniel died after choking on a chicken bone November 17, 2015. Arrest warrants said the child died from abuse.

On Tuesday, a pediatric orthopedist from the Children’s hospital system testified  about two fractures he found on Laila Daniel on Oct. 20, 2015. 

The first was an injury Jennifer Rosenbaum said happened four days before. Dr. Gilbert Duxbury testified he was concerned about the delay in seeking treatment.

A month before her death, according to multiple doctors who testified on the fifth day of the trial, she was brought to the hospital with injuries.

Timeline of Laila’s injury according to doctors testimony

  • Oct. 15 – Jennifer Rosenbaum said Laila fell into hole at Grandma’s house
  • Oct. 16 – Jennifer Rosenbaum said Laila fell at gymnastics and injured same leg
  • Oct. 19  - Daniel taken to urgent care
  • Oct. 20 – Daniel taken to pediatric orthopedist after being referred by urgent care doctor

Doctors said X-rays from the day of Laila's doctor visit, as well as from her autopsy, showed two injuries: one to Laila’s leg and an injury to her arm. Dr. John Eanes, the urgent care doctor who treated Laila on Oct. 19, said the fracture on her leg was very close to the knee itself and would have been very painful.

“It was an unusual fracture,” testified Dr. Eanes. “It would require a lot of force.”

Dr. Eanes put a splint on Laila’s leg and referred her to Dr. Duxbury, a specialist who treated Laila on Oct. 20. Dr. Duxbury agreed with Dr. Eanes' assessment that it was an unusual fracture for a child of Laila’s age.

The prosecutor asked Dr. Duxbury if this type of injury could have been caused by falling off a balance beam.

MORE: Facebook message, phone recordings introduced as evidence

“Most likely not,” replied Dr. Duxbury. “Depending on how high the beam was. If the beam was 5 or 6 feet off the ground, perhaps.”

“What if the beam was a couple of feet off the ground,” asked prosecuting attorney Eddie Chase.

“No. It shouldn’t generate that much force to cause that fracture,” testified Dr. Duxbury.

Dr. Duxbury went on to explain it was rare for a toddler to have a fracture like this, and she would not have been able to walk on the limb at all and likely would not have been able to participate in a gymnastics class.

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A ‘nightstick fracture’

Dr. Duxbury testified about a fracture to her arm, which was found on autopsy X-rays. He said it was an old injury and was already in the process of healing. It was a break in the Ulna bone on her arm. Duxbury called it a "nightstick fracture."

“From back when law enforcement used to carry nightsticks," Dr. Duxbury explained. "And it’s the natural response of somebody being attacked to put their arm up like this."

He said people would hold their arms over their face and head as if to ward off a blow.

The prosecutor asked the doctor what could cause this type of injury.

“Getting hit. Blunt force trauma,” replied Dr. Duxbury.

He went on to testify this type of injury was “almost unheard of” in a 2-year-old.

Dr. Duxbury said the delay in treatment and type of injuries Laila had were “red flags” for abuse and neglect. He called a social worker and child protective services worker at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to report his concerns.

MORE: Mistakes made by DFCS workers take center stage

During the trial, the Rosenbaums have been sitting quietly at the defense table, occasionally conferring with their lawyer. They make notes and, at different points, have pulled out paperwork or files from the table behind the defense table. 

The Rosenbaums have shown little emotion throughout the trial, except after opening statements, when Jennifer cried. She was still sitting at the defense table and the Judge had recessed for the day.

The District Attorney’s office tells 11Alive it is about a third of the way through its witness list. The trial is expected to last at least three more weeks.

After an hour long lunch break, jurors and members of the court came together again to hear from several other witnesses. The witnesses included people working at the gymnastics facility in McDonough where Laila Daniel allegedly injured her leg, according to the Rosenbaum's. 

Sarah Crawford McKee, interacted with Jennifer Rosenbaum at her daughter Millie's gymnastics practices, testified as well. 

McKee testified that she noticed Laila acted lethargic at the gymnastic practices and would typically just lie on the benches where parents sat. When McKee commented on the seemingly off behavior for a 2-year-old, Jennifer Rosenbaum responded with stories of traumatic abuse Laila had suffered while in the care of her biological mother. 

"There was one time when my daughter tried to hand Laila a stuffed animal, and when she reached for it her shirt came up a little bit. I saw red marks and bruising all over her lower abdomen," McKee said. 

The witness also remembered comments Jennifer Rosenbaum made about her disciplinary style. McKee made a comment about not giving her daughter candy because of how it made her act. 

Rosenbaum allegedly replied, "I make my girls run laps or stairs if they disobey." 

Samantha White, the last person to testify, was the DFACS case manager for Laila and Millie. She oversaw the girls throughout their foster care journey. 

The trial ended for the day, and will resume again tomorrow at 9 a.m.

LISTEN: 911 call released in Henry County child death

MORE: Prosecutors call Rosenbaums ‘liars, abusers, murderers’

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