The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Expert witness to testify in hot car case


June 30, 2018

PORTALES — An expert witness will be permitted to testify as to “factors that may impair memory or cause a loss of awareness” in the upcoming trial of two former daycare workers charged with leaving two young children in a hot car last summer.

Mother-daughter pair and former daycare operators Mary and Sandi Taylor are scheduled for a five-day trial in September on two charges each of first-degree felony abuse of a child, more than a year since one girl died and another was seriously injured after being left more than an hour in a car during a July mid-day while in the care of the duo.

Judge Donna Mowrer ruled Thursday on a state motion to exclude an expert witness offered by the Taylors’ defense attorney Tye Harmon, stipulating that Florida neuropsychologist David Diamond could during trial testify “generally regarding the functions of the brain and memory.”

“The whole purpose of Dr. Diamond’s testimony is to show that normal people can have circumstances occur that cause you to forget even important things in your life,” Harmon told The News. “If the specific factors (of the Taylors’ incident) come up in testimony, he can then testify as to whether or not those specific factors are consistent with factors that would cause people to lose awareness.”

Harmon said he was pleased with Mowrer’s decision and that it’s what he expected. District Attorney Andrea Reeb said she was also happy with the decision.

“I think (Mowrer) ruled completely properly with what the case law is in New Mexico,” Reeb told The News. “The judge agreed that he can testify generally as to how the brain functions, like how stress can affect memory. But he is restricted from any reference to ‘forgotten baby syndrome,’ because it’s not peer-reviewed or tested. Ultimately, I consider that a big victory for the state.”

Per Mowrer’s order, Diamond “may not testify and repeat what defendants told him,” which Reeb takes to mean that the Taylors themselves would have to testify during trial as to any specific circumstances during the day that might have impacted their memory. She also believes Diamond will not be permitted “to give examples of other cases,” of hot car deaths, which he has studied and spoken on in the past.

The Taylors — Mary, 63, and Sandi, 32 — are scheduled for a pre-trial conference July 18 and trial starting Sept. 24, according to court records.


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