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Rindahl takes the stand

After Judge Thomas Bibus decided to allow the state to re-open its case Tuesday morning for one more expert witness due to a scheduling conflict, defense attorney Timothy Dillon decided to move forward with his opening statement Monday afternoon.

Dillon said he planned to call his own expert, a medical examiner, to testify on behalf of the defense and then David Michael Rindahl Jr. would testify, making clear his client has every right to remain silent.

“David wants to take the stand,” Dillon said. “He wants to tell (the jury) what happened.”

Dillon continued to say the jurors focus should be on the two-hour taped interview Rindahl gave to Red Wing police, that he answered every question and repeatedly said he didn’t shake daughter Kyra.

Dillon also said he counted 15 to 20 times throughout the interview when police asked Rindahl a question and then talked over him, not allowing him to answer.

The emotions Rindahl showed throughout the interview will also be addressed, Dillon said, adding it was a perfectly normal reaction for Rindahl to get emotional after investigative Sgt. Jerry Rosenow told him his child was dying.

Defense’s expert testimony

Dr. John Plunkett, former medical examiner for Dakota and Scott counties, testified Tuesday morning that the expansion of a chronic subdural hematoma caused Kyra’s seizures on Sunday Oct. 28, 2012.

“Kyra had something that began significantly prior to what happened on Oct. 28,” Plunkett said.

Plunkett came to his conclusion after reviewing the records for the case from doctors and staff – both at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and Mayo Clinic in Rochester – as well as the transcript of Rindahl’s interview with Red Wing police.

Plunkett said a 4-month-old can sustain a subdural hematoma and show no symptoms at the time of the occurrence, adding that asymptomatic subdural hematomas are quite common. For shaking to be severe enough to cause a brain injury there would have to be damage to the neck, he added.

From the medical records provided, Plunkett determined that the description of a “motor oil” type substance found on Kyra’s brain during surgery proves that injury was at least three weeks old, if not older.

Plunkett also said that shaking a baby is much more likely to cause neck injuries than brain injuries.

Rindahl’s testimony

Rindahl took the stand Tuesday morning and spoke to the events which took place prior to taking Kyra to the emergency room in October 2012.

Dillon walked Rindahl through the events of that Sunday, which followed closely the story he told Red Wing police during his two-hour interview.

Rindahl said he put Kyra to bed and around 20 minutes later she woke up and was screaming. At this time, Rindahl said he went in to Kyra’s room, picked her up and tried to calm her down.

“I kind of jostled her a little bit,” he said, and added it was kind of a “dancing thing.”

“It wasn’t violent or anything,” he continued. “Who wouldn’t want to dance with their baby?”

Rindahl then demonstrated the motion of the “jostling” with a little side-to-side motion. Dillon asked if Rindahl was able to show the officers during the interview this motion, to which Rindahl said every time he tried to show the officers he was cut off.

Rindahl also said he believes the doctors incorrectly took down the story he gave them as to the events directly preceding Kyra’s first seizure at his home.

He said he told the story fully to doctors and “if any information was lost, that’s on them.”

Rindahl said he never admitted to shaking Kyra during the interview with police and that they just kept telling him they knew it was him.

“I figured if that’s what they’re telling me, then that’s what happened,” he said.

Dillon also addressed Rindahl’s change in demeanor during the interview with police, saying the police kept telling him that his daughter was dying.

“I thought I was never going to see my daughter again,” Rindahl said, which Dillon said would cause any parent to react the way Rindahl had.

Goodhue County attorney Erin Kuester also stepped Rindahl through the events of Sunday Oct. 28, 2012, and the different versions of the stories Rindahl told doctors during her cross examination.

Rindahl eventually said if there were missing pieces in the various stories of the events “I missed it.”

Kuester then asked Rindahl to once again tell her what happened when he went in to Kyra’s room shortly after she woke up screaming.

“I had jostled her in a dancing motion,” he said. Kuester asked if he had ever done that with Kyra before to which he replied, “Maybe, I don’t know. Yes, I have.”

Rindahl, upon Kuester’s request, read from the transcript of his interview with Red Wing police when he said, “I mean, I did shake her.”

Rindahl said he doesn’t believe what he did with his daughter hurt her.

The jury was read their instructions and went in to deliberations around 2:30 p.m. At press time a verdict had not been reached.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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