Jury acquits teen in baby's death

Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2003

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A Ketchikan teen was acquitted Tuesday of charges that he killed his girlfriend's baby.

After less than a day of deliberating, a jury of eight women and four men found 17-year-old Josh Rowden innocent on all counts.

Rowden was accused of killing seven-week-old Adrian Fackrell in April of 2002, when he was 16 years old.

The baby was the son of Rowden's girlfriend, Leah Fackrell.

The jury began deliberating late Monday afternoon after five days of testimony. The jurors returned their verdict shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The little boy died of meningitis in a Seattle hospital on April 27, 2002, after being transported from Ketchikan 11 days earlier.

A doctor testifying for the prosecution said blunt force injuries or violent shaking preceded bacterial infections and the meningitis that killed the baby.

But an expert brought in by the defense disagreed, saying that there were signs of rough handling, but that was not related to the meningitis and fever the baby suffered.

Rowden was indicted by a grand jury last May. He was charged with first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter. That gave the jury several options depending on how they evaluated the case.

But the jurors decided instead that Rowden was innocent.

In closing arguments, both sides worked to convince the jury to follow their interpretation of medical testimony offered by four doctors and two nurses.

And Rowden's lawyer, Barbara Kissner, questioned whether Rowden, a 16-year-old boy at the time, could have knowingly committed the crimes alleged.

''We're not talking about a 35-year-old soccer mom who's hip on everything,'' Kissner said.

But prosecutor Stephen Webb told jurors Rowden had admitted that on one occasion, he shook the baby until he stopped breathing, and that on at least two occasions he had pulled the baby's legs very hard.



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