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Trial in baby death case delayed because doctor won't be available to testify
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Trial in baby death case delayed because doctor won't be available to testify

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CROWN POINT — A Calumet Township woman won't face a jury until late January or early February on charges she caused the death of an 8-month-old girl she was babysitting in 2016.

Trisha Woodworth, 31, had been scheduled to stand trial next week in the death of Hammond infant Maci Moor in April 2016.

Woodworth has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated battery, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, battery resulting in death to a person less than 14 years of age and battery to a person less than 14 years old.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas granted Lake County prosecutors' motion Wednesday to continue Woodworth's trial because a doctor from Comer Children's Hospital was unavailable to testify due to a family medical emergency.

It's the fourth time Woodworth's trial has been continued, one of which was due to the coronavirus pandemic, online court records showed.

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Woodworth's attorneys, Harold Hagberg and Andreas Kyres, objected to a continuance.

Hagberg, who also represents Woodworth in a civil lawsuit filed by Maci's parents,* said the doctor has used the pandemic and a relative's illness to "hide" from giving testimony in a deposition and at trial. Any delay would be unfair to Woodworth, he said.

If a continuance were granted, Woodworth might have to request a public defender because she can't afford to continue to pay her attorneys' fees, Hagberg said.

Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Eric Randall said that the delay would not violate Woodworth's right to a timely trial and that any suggestion that she might need to request a public defender was speculative.

According to court records, the doctor concluded Maci's injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Police accused Woodworth of causing the injuries because she was the only adult with Maci at the time, records state.

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Lake County sheriff's police were called April 15, 2016, to Woodworth's Calumet Township home to help EMS personnel with a child who was breathing but unresponsive, according to court documents.

Woodworth brought Maci out to an ambulance crew, and the child was taken to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus. The baby later was flown to Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago, where she was declared brain dead April 17, 2016.

Hagberg told the judge the defense's position was that Maci suffered the injury that led to her death four days before Woodworth called an ambulance for her.

Maci's parents told police a bruise on the baby's forehead appeared several days before her death, because she accidentally fell and hit her head on a wood floor while playing with a "jump-a-roo," court records state.

The doctor from Comer's concluded Maci's injuries were "not consistent with the explanation that they are the result of a trivial fall sustained several days prior to admission to the hospital," documents state.

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Defense attorneys have asked Cappas to bar the doctor from testifying Maci's death was a result of shaken baby syndrome. 

Hagberg said the defense has hired three expert witnesses to refute the medical determination made by the doctor from Comer's.

Cappas ordered Woodworth to return to court Dec. 15.

The judge said he would set a hearing at that time on the defense's motion regarding the doctor's testimony. Cappas also planned to reschedule Woodworth's jury trial for late January or early February, depending on the availability of the parties' witnesses.

* Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that attorney Harold Hagberg represents Trisha Woodworth in a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed against her by the parents of Maci Moor. The Times regrets the error.


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