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In Gillette child abuse trial, doctors say genetic bone disorder ruled out

Campbell County Courthouse (County17.com)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A Colorado doctor testified Wednesday that Tyler Martinson’s son had undergone genetic screening that ruled out some rare bone conditions as a likely explanation for the baby’s broken bones.

Martinson entered day 3 of his trial on May 4, for which he faces multiple counts of felony aggravated child abuse for, prosecutors say, reportedly breaking no fewer than 10 of his infant son’s bones at the end of 2020.

Opening statements that kicked off day 2 have revealed the defense’s position that the child’s injuries, which resulted in hospitalization and transfer to a Colorado medical facility in January 2021, were not the result of child abuse but were the result of a rare bone condition, though Defense Attorney Cassandra Craven has yet to specify what condition that could be.

Dr. Kathryn Wells, an expert in child abuse pediatrics and a caregiver for the child during his stay at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, took the stand May 4 and told the jury that a team of health care professionals had considered, tested for and dismissed multiple genetic bone conditions as a likely cause for the child’s broken bones prior to diagnosing the injuries as child abuse.


Wells, the executive director for The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and leader of the center’s child protection team that diagnosed the child’s injuries, said genetic screening had been ordered when the child arrived at the Colorado facility.

The screening ruled out osteogenesis imperfecta, Wells testified, a rare genetic bone condition that can cause bone fragility. It also ruled out rickets and the connective tissue disorder known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Wells’s team diagnosed the baby’s injuries as child physical abuse, under the umbrella of nonaccidental trauma (NAT), she said.

The diagnosis reached by the Colorado team mirrors that of Dr. Deanna Lassegard, an emergency room physician at Campbell County Health who testified May 3 that the baby’s injuries were the result of NAT.


Lassegard was the first doctor to examine the baby after he was brought in by his parents over concerns that his ribs were popping as he breathed and he was not using one of his legs, she said, adding that nursing staff expressed child abuse concerns to her prior to her initial examination.

Bullinger reportedly told her that Martinson had been massaging the infant’s knees into his abdomen, referred to as a “bicycle maneuver,” to alleviate gas, Lassegard said, adding she could feel the child had a broken femur and noted two halves of the bone grinding against one another.

Lassegard also noted a grinding sensation in the baby’s ribs and ordered a skeletal survey to see the extent of the child’s injuries, which revealed dozens of breaks in the child’s ribs and legs and showed his femur had been broken in two.

She ultimately made the call to the Children’s Hospital Colorado because she knew the broken femur would require a specialist’s care, Lassegard testified.