from the Allen Superior Court. The Honorable Frances C. Gull,
Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 02D06-1510-F3-68
Attorney for Appellant Nikos C. Nakos Fort Wayne, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Larry D. Allen Deputy Attorney General
Barteau, Senior Judge
of the Case
Marie Lindhorst appeals her convictions of battery resulting
in serious bodily injury to a person less than fourteen years
of age, a Level 3 felony; and neglect of a dependent resulting in
serious bodily injury, a Level 3 felony. She also appeals
the sentence imposed by the court. We affirm.
raises three issues, which we restate as:
I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in limiting
Lindhorst's cross-examination of an expert witness.
II. Whether there is sufficient evidence to support
III. Whether Lindhorst's sentence is inappropriate in
light of the nature of the offense and the character of the
and Procedural History
The parents of S.E., an infant girl, hired Lindhorst to
babysit her at Lindhorst's house while they were at work.
Lindhorst began taking care of S.E. when S.E. was eight weeks
old. On the morning of May 26, 2015, two days before
S.E.'s first birthday, S.E.'s father dropped her off
at Lindhorst's house. At that time, S.E. could crawl, but
she could not walk or climb, and she could not pull herself
up to a standing position. Her father recalled that S.E.
appeared normal and healthy that morning, with no signs of
Later that morning, Lindhorst called S.E.'s mother to
inform her that S.E. had fallen on a wooden floor "an
hour ago" and had a "bump on her head." Tr.
Vol. II, p. 80. She further stated S.E. had begun vomiting
and she was taking her to the hospital.
Lindhorst took S.E. to Dupont Hospital, arriving there at
11:36 a.m. Lindhorst told hospital staff that S.E. had been
standing up and fell over onto a wooden floor two hours prior
to arriving at the hospital. Nurse Cory Hentgen examined S.E.
and saw swelling on the left side of her head. S.E. was
responsive but fussy and irritable. S.E.'s parents
arrived at the emergency room, and her father noted she had
swelling on the left side of her head and was whimpering.
Hospital staff took a CAT scan of S.E., which revealed she
had a fractured skull and cerebral bleeding. After the scan,
S.E. was less responsive to stimuli. Hospital staff sedated
S.E., put her on a ventilator, and transferred her to
Lutheran Children's Hospital. To Hentgen, S.E.'s
injury seemed too severe to have resulted from a simple fall.
In twenty years of working as a nurse, Hentgen had never seen
such an injury result from a child falling over onto the
floor. Hentgen notified Lutheran's staff that they needed
to call Child Protective Services (CPS) for an investigation
of the circumstances of her injury.
S.E. arrived at Lutheran's emergency room at 1:39 p.m.,
where she was examined by Nurse Donna Ancil. Ancil saw
redness and swelling on her head. Ancil read S.E.'s chart
and determined, based on her experience as a nurse trained in
treating neurological injuries, that S.E.'s injury could
not have resulted from merely falling over onto the floor.
Instead, that type of injury was caused by "either a
blow to the head or propulsion, as in a push and propulsion
into something." Id. at 70-71.
Several doctors examined S.E. and her scans. Dr. John
Bormann, a radiologist, determined S.E. had a "depressed
skull fracture, " which is a "pretty significant
injury" involving a portion of bone being pushed into
the brain. Id. at 120. The bone fragment was
depressed by four millimeters and caused bleeding that was
putting pressure on the brain. Dr. Bormann later stated that
such a head injury could only have been caused by a
"high-velocity impact, " such as a fall from ten to
twenty feet onto hard ground, meaning concrete. Id.
at 122. Falling from a standing position or even from a couch
or bed would be "very unlikely" to cause the
injury. Id. In over twenty years as a radiologist,
Dr. Bormann had never seen an injury like S.E.'s caused
by a fall onto the floor. To the contrary, an injury like
this caused him to consider whether there was a
"non-accidental" cause. Id. at 129.
Dr. Jeffrey Kachmann performed emergency surgery on S.E. to
relieve the cranial pressure, stop the bleeding, and correct
the fracture. He cut out a piece of her skull and installed a
temporary drain in her scalp to remove excess blood. Dr.
Kachmann observed S.E.'s brain was contused "because
of the tremendous impact of the force that occurred
here." Tr. Vol. II, pp. 229-230. A large blood clot had
formed, which had pushed the brain against the right side of
the skull. Based on his examination of S.E. and later seeing
a picture of the floor where Lindhorst alleged the fall
occurred, Dr. Kachmann concluded "there's no way, no
way this injury could have occurred from that impact."
Id. at 230.
Dr. David Smith, a pediatric surgeon, examined S.E. on May
26, 2015, after her emergency surgery. He reviewed her CAT
scan and other doctors' reports and examined her
"head to foot." Id. at 138. He concluded
S.E.'s skull fracture and resulting hematoma and retinal
hemorrhages were caused by a "significant blow to the
head" involving "a large amount of force."
Id. at 139. Based on his experience, a ground-level
fall or a fall from a couch or chair would not usually result
in this severe of an injury. Simply falling onto the floor
was "very unlikely" to cause S.E.'s injuries.
Id. at 140. In his opinion, the injury was caused by
"non-accidental trauma." Id. at 148. He
further concluded that S.E.'s condition had been
life-threatening, and she would have had visible symptoms of
distress up to hours before arriving at the emergency room.
S.E.'s father spoke with Lindhorst after he arrived at
Lutheran. She told him the same thing she told S.E.'s
mother and hospital staff: S.E. had fallen over onto a wooden
floor. Meanwhile, police officers and CPS arrived at Lutheran
to investigate the incident. Detective Randy Morrison spoke
with S.E.'s parents and Lindhorst separately. Lindhorst
told Detective Morrison that S.E. fell over onto a wooden
floor and hit her head. She also told Morrison that S.E.
vomited on her, but Morrison did not see or smell vomit on
Lindhorst. Later that evening, Lindhorst gave a written
statement to Detective Morrison, restating that S.E. was
injured by falling onto the floor.
After S.E.'s surgery, S.E.'s parents were barred from
visiting S.E. at the hospital pending the results of
CPS's investigation. S.E. stayed at Lutheran for a week.
Lindhorst and S.E.'s father had a conversation via text
messages during the week, and Lindhorst asked him "if we
were pressing charges on her." Id. at 31.
CPS would not allow S.E.'s parents to take her home after
the hospital released her. Instead, she was placed in her
uncle's custody for two days, until CPS ended its
investigation. S.E.'s parents took her to follow-up
appointments with her pediatrician and a pediatric
neurologist. They also took her to an ophthalmologist to
examine her retinal hemorrhages. As of the time of trial,
S.E. had started walking and seemed to be developing
normally, but there is permanent scarring on her brain
tissue. As she ages, there is a risk that ...