Crime Autopsy results say blunt force trauma cause of 1-year-old's death | The Cullman Tribune


Autopsy results say blunt force trauma cause of 1-year-old's death

1-year-old James Lee Sanson died on May 31, 2016. / Image courtesy of WVTM 13

CULLMAN - After more than a year, the official autopsy report on the death of a Cullman baby who died last May is back. According to Cullman City Police Sgt. David Nassetta, James Lee Sanson, who had just turned a year old shortly before his death, died as a result of a blunt force trauma injury.

Now, Nassetta, the lead investigator on the case, will turn over all his findings to Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock. Blaylock is expected to present the case to a grand jury on July 17. Authorities are not releasing the names of the suspect or suspects. "We are not releasing suspect names. We are referring to them as 'the caregivers'," said Nassetta.

On May 29, 2016, 12-month-old Sanson was brought to Cullman Regional in a private vehicle by two caregivers, who were watching the child while his parents were away.  The child was in cardiac arrest when he arrived at the hospital and was soon transferred to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. Sanson remained at Children’s until the time of his death on the afternoon of May 31.

According to a statement from the Cullman Police Department at the time, the attending physicians could find no preexisting conditions that would have caused Sanson's death. An autopsy was performed on Friday, June 3, 2016.

At the time that the injury likely occurred, Sanson was in the care of two people who were not his parents.  When the caregivers took Sanson to Cullman Regional, they gave an account of what happened; however, a statement from the CPD said that as information developed and the extent of Sanson's injuries was realized, the account given by the caregivers was missing any explanation of how the child was injured. 

"There was no explanation for what happened to him," Nassetta said.

When the two caregivers were contacted by the CPD for a follow-up interview shortly after the incident, they refused and directed any further contact to their attorney, Tommy Drake, who denied the CPD’s request to speak to his clients.

As to why the official autopsy report took more than a year to come back, Nassetta said, "We expected it to take six to nine months, depending on the testing. The (Alabama) Department of Forensic Sciences is backed up, but this took longer than we expected it to take."

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