December 2, 2021

Jury likely to get case on Monday

Defense expert says cause of child’s death ‘undetermined’

Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer

Forensic pathologist Dr. Priya Banerjee testifies Friday during the Bohn trial at the Cortland County Courthouse.

Testimony concluded Friday afternoon in the murder trial of a man accused of causing the death of a 2-year-old McGraw girl. Lawyers are expected to give closing statements Monday morning before the case is handed to the jury, likely by midday.

Dorain Bohn, 29, of Buffalo, is on trial in Cortland County Court for second-degree murder, first degree manslaughter, felonies, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

The prosecution contends Bohn caused the death of Kassidy Dains by slamming her head into a wall. Cortland County Public Defender Keith Dayton maintains the child died from injuries received from an accidental fall from a bunk bed.

Priya Banerjee, a forensic pathologist and medical examiner in Rhode Island, testified Friday that some of the many bruises and other injuries on Kassidy’s body could have been caused by efforts to resuscitate the child.

She said she concluded the manner of death was undetermined, but one of the possibilities for Kassidy’s skull fracture could have been a fall from the bunk bed. A large red mark on Kassidy’s back was consistent with her body striking a ladder on the bunk bed and a head injury that caused her death was caused by a fall to the floor.

“This is consistent with one impact,” Banerjee said.

The prosecution has argued that Kassidy’s death was a case of child abuse and that Bohn slammed her head into a hallway wall.

Medical Examiner Dr. James Terzian, who had examined Kassidy’s body, had noted Thursday that she also had abdominal injuries he believed were caused by blunt force trauma around her intestines, noting “Something had to rub against it.”

Banerjee said the injuries could have been consistent with a fall.

Stuart Leigh Phoenix, a professor of aerospace engineering at Cornell University, testified Friday morning, before Banerjee took the stand, that a fist could have caused the dent in the wall at the apartment.

On cross-examination Friday afternoon, Chief Assistant Cortland County District Attorney Elizabeth McGrath tried to paint Banerjee as a hired gun chosen from a website by the defense, and that Banerjee lacked the experience and information to provide a qualified opinion.

Banerjee was paid about $16,500 as a consultant to testify in the case, her first in New York state.

Under questioning by McGrath, she said she does not have extensive experience handling homicides involving young victims. Banerjee said did not have access to original slides from the medical examination and was not aware that some blood had been found on bedsheets, Bohn’s pants and Kassidy’s pajamas, but she did not believe the information would have influenced her conclusions.

After her testimony, Dayton rested his case.

Judge Julie Campbell told jurors she and the attorneys would have a conference Friday afternoon to work on details of the instructions that jurors would receive before beginning their deliberations Monday. They will receive the case follow closing arguments by the defense and prosecution.

“We will have the case for you Monday for consideration,” Campbell said.

Staff reporter Shenandoah Briere contributed to this report.