Friday in the Brittney Pryce trial

Staff Writer

Friday in the Brittney Pryce trail in Custer County District Court Child Abuse Pediatricians testified as to the type and extent of injuries sustained by 20 month old Noah Pryce before his death in November, 2013. Both doctors testified that Noah suffered "defuse brain injury" which is injury to the entire brain and would have been immediately unwell as a result. This type of brain injury was compared to a "focal injury" in which only one localized area of the skull or brain is injured. This testimony contradicted earlier testimony by a defense witness that said Noah had a "lucid interval" between Nov. 15 and Nov. 17, after falling in the bathtub. The type of injury sustained, according to the pediatricians, would have not allowed for a lucid interval. "Given the severity of the brain injury, he would have been immediately unwell," Dr. Suzanne Haney said. Haney has been a Child Abuse Pediatrician for three years and she examined Noah when he was in the hospital in Omaha. MRI images, X-rays and autopsy photos were part of the testimony as was photos of Noah while hospitalized.

Also testifying for the prosecution was Dr. Fernando Yepes, a doctor who treated Noah in the Emergency Room at Good Samaritan in Kearney. He testified "the pattern of injuries were inconsistent with the story I got from Broken Bow. That was concerning." He also testified that the bruises on Noah's face, over one eye and along a cheek, lined up with the shape of his hand when he laid his hand over them.

Also testifying on Friday was Samantha Aerhart, a child and family services specialist with Health and Human Services who was the case manager for Noah Pryce's foster care. She testified that Noah and his younger brother, Dallas, were placed in foster care after Dallas fell out of a child car seat that was being held above someone's head. The incident which happened in Grand Island was witnessed by an off duty police officer. Aerhart testified that both boys "did great, they did well" in foster care and Noah "always had a smile on his face." On Nov. 15, Arehart said, Brittney Pryce told Aerhart that they were no longer able to keep the boys and that she and her husband would keep them until other placement could be found. Aerhart's last visit with Pryce was Nov. 15. and she said at that time "I had no concerns." From an email from another case worker who substituted for a visit, Aerhart read notes saying Pryce had reported problems after visits from Noah's biological mother, Felicia Pryce, that Noah would have temper tantrums and refuse to eat.

Also on the stand was Penny Jones, LPN, who checked Brittney Pryce into the Broken Bow Clinic for a pre-natal checkup Nov. 12, 2013. Pryce was pregnant and delivered her baby in early December.

Tracy Moore also testified. Noah was her stepson. She was married to the child's father, Christopher Harding at the time of the child's death. Moore was emotional during her testimony saying that paternity was confirmed four days before Nov. 17 (Nov. 13) with 99.9 percent accuracy. She said they gathered clothes and a bed. "We were getting ready to bring him home," she said and they had an appointment Nov. 18 with HHS to begin the process of gaining custody. Defense attorney Stephen Potter objected to the line of questions stating he didn't see the relevance and the motioned was sustained. Moore testified that she did not see Brittney and her husband in Omaha while with Noah and present by his bedside were Felicia Pryce, Christopher Harding, and Christopher's parents, and herself. During questions from the defense, Potter asked if Moore was aware that law enforcement informed Brittney Pryce and her husband that they could not go to Omaha and Moore answered "No."

The court recessed until 9 a.m. Monday. Upon giving her instructions to the jury, District Court Judge Karin Noakes said that she didn't believe that the jury would be sequestered until Tuesday at the earliest.

Brittney Pryce is accused of one count, Child abuse leading to the death of a child. If convicted, Pryce will face a minimum sentence of twenty years and a maximum sentence of life.

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