CCA hold abusive head trauma testimony reliable

Jessica Robertson, Volume 50 Articles Editor JUDGE ALCALA DELIVERED THE OPINION FOR A UNANIMOUS COURT. The issue in this case was whether expert testimony on the subject of abusive head trauma is reliable. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that expert testimony of abusive head trauma is sufficiently reliable when it meets the standard set forth in Kelly v. State. In Wolfe v. State, Wolfe was charged with first-degree-felony injury to a child after a seven-month-old child under Wolfe’s care in an in-home daycare sustained symptoms indicative of abusive head trauma. Wolfe’s counsel objected to expert testimony regarding the abusive head trauma on the ground that the medical theory was unreliable. On appeal, the court concluded that the testimony need only be examined by general reliability standards under the prongs and factors outlined in Kelly. This Court previously held in Kelly that admissibility of expert scientific evidence must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the testimony is both sufficiently reliable and relevant to the issues in the case. To establish reliability under Kelly, a proponent of scientific testimony must satisfy three criteria: (1) the underlying scientific theory must be valid; (2) the technique applying the theory must be valid; and … Continue reading CCA hold abusive head trauma testimony reliable