CROWN POINT | Not guilty on all counts.
It took a Lake Criminal Court jury a little more than four hours Friday to reach that verdict in the trial of Natalie Fabian Evans, 36.
The former Lowell woman who fought the murder, battery and neglect of a dependant charges for almost four years won her battle.
Fabian Evans' 16-month-old adopted son, Luke, died of a severe brain injury on Nov. 30, 2001. Doctors who treated Luke said the injury was caused by violent shaking. But prosecutors didn't charge Fabian Evans until December 2002.
After hearing the verdict, Fabian Evans broke down crying. She hugged her attorney, T. Edward Page, who patted her on the back saying: "It's over. It's all over."
Fabian Evans walked out of the courthouse arm-in-arm with her parents and friends.
Page said Luke's death is a tragedy, but it also would have been a tragedy to find his mother -- who loved him deeply -- responsible for his death.
"Nothing will bring Luke back," Page said. "We're just glad Natalie's life was not destroyed also and that justice was done in the end."
Page and co-counsel Nick Thiros put on more than 10 witnesses who testified they expressed concerns about Luke's development and said Fabian Evans worked to get him help.
A defense expert told jurors that Luke, who spent the first nine months of his life in a Russian orphanage, may have had bleeding in his brain for days prior to when Fabian Evans found him unresponsive in his crib.
Fabian Evans testified when she tried to wake Luke by giving him a bath, he hit his head on the tub. She said she shook him gently trying to revive him. That didn't work, so she called 911, put Luke on the floor and dressed him.
Thinking he might be suffering from something akin to a diabetic coma, she tried to feed him. Luke still didn't respond.
Doctors at St. Anthony Medical Center immediately considered Luke's subdural hematoma and brain swelling caused by abuse. After seeing the "ominous" findings on the CT scan, they decided to transfer Luke to University of Chicago Hospital. Doctors there also felt Luke's injuries were inflicted. He died the next day after doctors removed life support.
Defense experts testify during the trial that inflicted abuse wasn't the only explanation for Luke's injuries.
During closing arguments Friday, Deputy Prosecutor Kathleen O'Halloran told jurors "Child abuse is not limited to the single mother, the hulking boyfriend or the impoverished parent."
"The secret parents keep is you can love a child so perfectly one moment and the next one want to scream -- or worse," O'Halloran said. "A baby's shrieks can peel away layer after layer of reason, maturity and logic to reveal a dark, uncivilized core."