published Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Testimony over alleged bruise continues in hand injury case in Ringgold

  • photo
    Heritage baseball coach Eric Beagles watches his team from the third base box at Ringgold.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — A picture of a boy’s bruised hand used as evidence against a potentially abusive assistant principal didn’t quite add up, a medical examiner testified this morning in Catoosa County Superior Court.

Lora Darrisaw, a forensic pediatric medical examiner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, received a series of photos last year that were supposed to show damage to Gregory Aaron Black’s hand. Black said Heritage High School Assistant Principal Eric Beagles twisted his right hand and slammed it against Beagles’ desk during a confrontation in February 2013, something Beagles denies.

Black’s mother, Davida Kaye Caylor, then filed a complaint with the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office and supplied a series of pictures as proof. One picture stood out. It showed a hand bruised so badly that the skin had almost turned blue.

None of the other pictures looked like this, and three weeks after the alleged incident, the Sheriff’s Office arrested Caylor on a charge of making false statements.

As the prosecution’s expert witness, Darrisaw testified today that she examined about 50 pictures that Caylor provided. Based on those other pictures and the medical reports she received from Hutcheson Medical Center and the Heritage High School nurse, Darrisaw concluded that the picture in question must have been fabricated.

Pictures taken a day after the incident do not show this deep bruise.

“It doesn’t just disappear,” Darrisaw said on the stand next to Judge Kristina Cook Graham. “The photograph of the bruise was not reliable.”

Caylor’s attorney, Richard Murray, pointed out that medical records indicate that — somehow — the knuckles on Black’s index, middle and ring fingers were swollen that day. The middle finger was also bruised.

When asked by Murray, Darrisaw said that any medical record is more reliable than a photo taken by Black or Caylor.

“The (Hutcheson Medical Center) report says there is a bruise,” Murray said in front of the jury.

“It says, ‘contusion,’” Darrisaw said.

“Which is a bruise.”

“Yes.”

“And the only picture you have that shows bruising is the one you say is unreliable,” Murray said.

“That is correct.”

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt called several other witnesses this morning, including Catoosa County Deputy Tyler Smith, the school resource officer at Heritage High.

The trial will resume at 1 p.m. today after a lunch break.

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