Brian Dykstra Acquitted in Death of Adopted Russian Son Isaac Dykstra

Thursday, after only a few hours of deliberation  a jury in Iowa City (IA) acquitted Brian Dykstra of all charges in the death of his Russian adopted son Isaac Jonathan Dykstra (no original name known.) The 21-month  old  was admitted to the hospital on August  2005, with severe head trauma and died the next day after being taken off of life support. His injuries were reported consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Dykstra claimed that three days earlier  the boy had fallen down steps head first on to a concrete floor, but had not required hospital treatment.. Doctors and police believed that while Isaac did fall a few days earlier, the injuries that caused his death happened in a separate incident the day before he died. After a prolonged police investigation, in August 2008, Dykstra  was charged with 2nd degree murder. His  former wife, Lisa DeWaard,. (divorce final August 1, 2011), now  an assistant professor of Spanish  at Stetson University, wasn’t home at the time and wasn’t charged.  Brian Dykstra, if found guilty, could have been sentenced to as much as 50 yeas in prison.

The trial opened last week with strong testimony from prosecution EMTs, hospital personnel and police  witnesses who said that Isaac suffered severe head trauma, including a fractured skull, brain swelling and bruising that could not have occurred  from a tumble down  two Dykstra claimed.

The defense argued that Dyskra was an “eager, loving father” who would never have harmed the toddler.  Based on news reports, which is my only available reference, it appears the Dykstra’s defense was based on matters of “good character.” 

The media run-up to the trial indicated that 39 witnesses–including 11 doctors would be called.  News reports, however,  focused on prosecution arguments and outside of coverage of  Brian Dyskra and Lisa DeWaard’s testimony generally either gave short shrift to defense witnesses–or there weren’t many.   

Below are excerpts from news reports of the trial.  I have put them in order of subject matter. I’ve tried to give a wide range of coverage and take full responsibility if I missed anything.

Iowa City Gazette, October 24, 2011:
Attorneys address events leading up to boy’s death
{Referring to the fall down the stairs}  Over the next few days, he said, Isaac showed other “subtle but important changes,” including a “squishy” spot on top of his head. When Isaac began crying and holding his head on Aug. 13, Dykstra panicked when he called 911 and then hung up, according to Spies.

But prosecutors said that when paramedics responded, they found a pale child with bluish lips, fixed pupils, bruising near his ear and a soft spot on top of his head.

Assistant County Attorney Beth Beglin told jurors Monday that Dykstra explained to a first responder only that the boy had fallen a few days ago and bumped his head. Responders asked what happened that morning but “never got an answer as to what occurred,” Beglin said.

The boy was rushed to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and doctors found he had severe head injuries, including a skull fracture, brain swelling and bruising.

They said the injuries were not consistent with a days-old fall down two steps, Beglin told jurors. She said several doctors will testify that Isaac’s injuries were consistent with being shaken or slammed on the same day that he was hospitalized.

“This devastating brain injury was not accidental — it was a malicious act,” Beglin said. “And the only person who could have and did inflict that injury was the defendant, Brian Dykstra.”

Brian Dykstra at time of arrest

Iowa City Gazette, October 25, 2011
Man “detached” as son died:  Witness
 “Brian was sitting in a chair, and he looked at me, and locked eyes, and said, ‘Jen, tell me how something like this can happen?’” Jennifer Evans told jurors Tuesday during Dykstra’s second-degree murder trial in connection with the death of his son, Isaac, on Aug. 14, 2005.

…At the crime scene, officers testified, Dykstra appeared to be nervous when they found his son lying in the living room with severe injuries.

“But he was not in distress,” said Tom Lacina, who has been with the Iowa City Fire Department for 23 years.

Firefighter Paul Suedkamp said he also found Dykstra to be emotionless, but not in shock. And he didn’t try to approach his son.

Evans, a former registered nurse for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, testified that she told Dykstra that only blunt force trauma — like being in a car accident — could cause injuries of that magnitude.

“He didn’t respond to that,” Evans said…

…Evans said the boy’s mother, Lisa Dykstra, was “fully grieving.”

“She was dry heaving — almost catatonic,” she said. “She was vomiting and crying.”

Brian, on the other hand, “said very little,” according to Evans.

“For the most part, he appeared very detached,” she said.

Other nurses, doctors and law enforcement officers also told jurors that Dykstra seemed withdrawn as his son was dying. But the witnesses also conceded that parents grieve differently.

“It’s not fair to say that what Brian Dykstra exhibited that day was out of the ordinary,” said UI Hospitals nurse Stephanie Jacobson…

…“I would describe him as unconcerned,” he said. “He was farther away than I would expect a person to be from their child at an emergency scene.”

The Daily Iowan, October 25, 2011
Medical officials: “non-accidental trauma”cause of death in Dykstra murder trial

Dr. Michael D’Alessandro
Several medical officials testified Thursday in the Brian Dykstra second-degree murder trial that the death of his 20-month-old adopted child was due to “non-accidental trauma.”…Catscan photos were shown and explained to the jury by UI radiology Professor Michael D’Alessandro. D’Alessandro was one doctor who said he believed non-accidental trauma was the cause of the injuries, adding it would take “massive force” to cause the injuries to the child’s brain he observed.

Iowa City Gazette, October 26, 2011
Nurse says she was concerned by father’s statements
The next testimony gets interesting. According to Joyce Osborn, a now retired nurse who in August 2005 was staffing  Mercy on Call, a free medical hotline, testified that Brian Dykstra called after Isaac’s fall down the stairs.  While the baby’s injuries did not seem critical and  would normally be treated at home, Osborn said she decided to override the routine recommendation when Dykstra showed concern that Isaac would have a visible bruise since the family was expecting a visit from their adoption social worker in a few days:

He seemed concerned that his son would have a (visible) bruise because a social worker was coming in a few days,” Osborn said, adding that she “thought that the call may have needed a doctor’s input.”

An on-call doctor was signaled to call Dykstra about the incident.

The next day, according to testimony, registered nurse Sue Kuntz conducted a follow-up call with the family. After talking with Lisa Dykstra, Kuntz testified, she did not feel there was a reason to be concerned about Isaac’s well-being.

Former adoption specialist Hilary Condon, who helped the Dykstras adopt the boy from Russia, also testified that she found no reason to be concerned for his safety when she visited the family at their home Aug. 12.

Daily Iowan, November 2, 2011
Dykstra has trouble recalling the day of his son’s hospitalization
 After the defense rested, the state had a rebuttal, which included a testimony from Wayne State University pediatric radiologist Wilbur Smith, who said he specializes in abusive head injuries in children.

Smith, who said he has investigated for the FBI and U.S. Army, said the injuries he observed in the child occurred “somewhere within an hour of his collapsing.”

“[The child] may have had a short fall, but the injuries that he suffered on the 13th were from a different trauma — a whole unique different set of trauma,” Smith said.

Spies focused his cross-examination on discrepancies between Smith’s findings and what other investigative officials found in regard to the injuries to the brain.

He asked Smith why he could not tell him the size of an injury inside the child’s brain called a “subdural hematoma” and whether the other doctors’ findings were inaccurate.

“I don’t know how they could have been,” Smith said. “I don’t think anybody can tell you how large it was.”

Spies then objected to a slide show intended to be shown by state witness Nasreen Syed, a UI clinical associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences.

Sixth District Judge Patrick Grady believed the complete slide show would be inappropriate and instead allowed a only a few photographs to be shown.

The photographs showed the child’s eyes, which, Syed said, indicated “retinal hemorrhages,” and they were “most likely a result of inflicted injury.”

Dr. Janice Ophoven


Eastern Iowa News Now, October 31, 2011

But Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist out of Minnesota, said Dykstra’s explanation that his son fell down two stairs three days before he was rushed to the hospital on Aug. 13, 2005 is plausible.

“Even though (Isaac) could walk and eat and sleep, could he do that with all the medical problems he was having?” Dykstra’s defense attorney Leon Spies asked Ophoven.

“Yes,” she said, adding that it’s “not possible to say (Isaac) died of inflicted injuries.”

Assistant Johnson County District Attorney Anne Lahey questioned Ophoven’s credibility, asking if she exaggerated the number of child autopsies she performed and asking if she previously wrote in publications signs of child abuse.

“You wrote that adults responsible will say they have no idea how the injuries were sustained,” Lahey said. “You also wrote that an injury might be blamed on actions of a sibling or that he fell from an innocuous height like a bed or couch.”

The The Daily Iowan, October 27, 2011
Dykstra Trial: trial judge rules autopsy photos will not be shown

Photos from the autopsy of a child who died while under the care of a former Iowa City man will not be shown in court after a 6th District judge’s ruling Wednesday.

Brian Dykstra, 35, who is charged with the second-degree murder of his adopted son, objected to having pictures of the child’s autopsy shown in court. Defense attorney Leon Spies said a doctor testified at a previous hearing that “the autopsy photographs are not relevant to the determination of the injuries” and are “more prejudicial than appropriate.”
Brian Dykstra and Leon Spies


Eastern Iowa News Now, October 28, 2011
Brian Dykstra talks about events preceding his toddler son’s death in Iowa City murder trial
On Aug. 13 – the day 21-month-old Isaac Dykstra was rushed to the hospital with severe head injuries – Brian Dykstra said his son awoke around the same time he always does but was yawning all morning

“You never think of these things until now,” Dykstra, now 35, told an Iowa City police investigator in a video taped interview taken on Aug. 13, 2005, and played this morning for the 14 jurors hearing his second-degree murder trial in Johnson County.

Dykstra told the detective that Isaac had fallen down two steps three days earlier and hit his head. He said the child suffered a bruise on his cheek and on his ear and a bump on his head that turned “mushy” over the next few days.

He said Isaac was a bit fussier after the fall, but he was mostly himself, according to the videotaped interview. On the morning of Aug. 13, Dykstra told the investigator that his son was just sitting in the hallway, feeling his head and watching TV.

“Normally he was all playing, and he was just sitting there,” Dykstra said. “He just wasn’t his normal self.”

Dykstra said later that day he was in the kitchen washing dishes when he heard Isaac cry, according to the videotaped interview. Dykstra said he found his son lying on the ground, crying “like he bumped his head again” and holding his head.

Dykstra said Isaac appeared to be struggling to breathe, and at one point he “did a little bit of CPR,” according to the interview. When Dykstra tried to look at his son’s bruise, according to the interview, Isaac pushed him away.

Because the child was laboring to breathe, Dykstra said he called 911 but hung up.

“He seemed to be coming out of it,” Dykstra said.

When a 911 operator called back, Dykstra said someone should probable come help.

“I thought, you know what, I don’t trust myself,” he said in the interview. “I want someone here.”
Isaac was pronounced brain dead on Aug. 14 after suffering a hematoma, hemorrhaging, retinal bleeding and brain swelling. Investigators immediately considered the death suspicious, but they didn’t arrest Dykstra until three years later in August 2008.

Cedar Rapids Gazette,November 1, 2011
UPDATE: Testimony ends in Iowa City murder trial: Closing arguments set for Wednesday
We fell in love with him,” Dykstra today told the 14 jurors who are hearing his second-degree murder trial in a Johnson County courtroom. “You couldn’t ask for a better fit for us.”…

…Dykstra this morning told the jurors how much he adored his son. When asked if he “beat up” his child, Dykstra said, “Absolutely not.”

Dykstra described for the jurors a fall on Aug. 10 that he said led to the injuries that took his son’s life a few days later. Authorities and doctors have testified that Isaac had to have suffered devastating and fatal injuries on Aug. 13 – the day his dad called 911 and Isaac was rushed to the hospital.

But Dykstra described a slow change in behavior and small signs over a few days that led to Isaac’s passing out in the family’s Iowa City living room on Aug. 13.

“Looking back, I really wish we would have taken him to the hospital” on Aug. 10 after his fall, Dykstra said.

“To the normal average person, he looked fine,” he said. “But, looking back, there was a lot more going on there than just a fall.”

Dykstra described a knot that his son got on his head after the Aug. 10 fall and said it turned soft over the next few days. He said Isaac was groggy, uninterested in walking and irritable.

But, upon cross-examination, Dykstra said he can remember few details about Aug. 13 –when he called 911 and hung up and told an operator who called back that his son was struggling to breathe.

Dykstra said he doesn’t remember refusing to answer responders’ questions about what happened that morning that led to his son’s passing out with severe head injuries. He said he doesn’t remember what he told doctors about administering CPR or being preoccupied with the dogs when paramedics were at his house.

Daily Iowan, November 2, 2011
Dykstra has trouble recalling the day of his son’s hospitalization

“I went in there, and he was holding his head,” Dykstra said. “I picked him up and was trying to comfort him, and that’s when I remember the eyes rolling back and he just passed out.”

Assistant County Attorney Beth Beglin asked whether he remembered what occurred when the first responders to his 911 call arrived at his house.

“I don’t remember anything,” Dykstra said. “I remember basically [my son] passed out in my arms and then being driven to the hospital in the back of a police car.”

He focused the rest of his testimony on his relationship with his former wife Lisa DeWaard — who defended him Monday in her testimony — and the child they adopted from Russia.
Dykstra, a self-described “small-town country boy,” said the time he and DeWaard had with their child was the happiest part of their relationship.

“It was like he was the glue to our relationship … everything we did, we did together,” he said. 

The victim’s father described how they played with cars and balls, and he said they maintained their “connection” by looks and touch rather than speaking, because the child spoke Russian.

While describing himself, he mentioned he played a number of sports. When defense attorney Leon Spies asked whether he was any good, he smiled and said, “I could play,” which caused some laughter his family.
“I always wanted to be the dad,” he said. “To have a kid and be able to do those things and to be that type of a role model that my dad was for me.”

Lisa Dewaard

Easter Iowa News Now, October 31 201

 Lisa DeWaard, who told the 14 jurors today that her marriage ended with Dyktra on Aug. 1 of this year, talked in depth about their adoption process and said her husband was excited to adopt and immediately bonded with Isaac.

The couple met their child twice in the Russian orphanage where he lived before being adopted, and DeWaard testified that she had initial concerns about the fact that Isaac’s birth mother was HIV-positive, even though he had tested negative numerous times.

After the couple’s first meeting with the child, adoption officials wanted to know whether they were still interested, DeWaard said.

“I looked at Brian and said, ‘I’m a little nervous,’” she said. “He looked at me and said, ‘This is my son.’”
When the couple returned to the orphanage a second time to complete the adoption, DeWaard said her husband “kept hogging the baby.”

“It was fun to see Brian playing with him,” she testifying, explaining that he was teaching Isaac how to make car sounds and how to roll a ball. “They were probably the best days of my life

Eastern Iowa News Now, October 31, 2011
Mother said her husband and son “had a very close relationship”
After Isaac Dykstra fell down two stairs on Aug. 10, DeWaard said her son was sleepier. He also had a large bump on his head, he was fussier, and he didn’t play or try to walk as much as he usually did, DeWaard told the 14 jurors hearing her ex-husband’s case in Johnson County District Court.

“Looking back, I wish we would have taken him into Mercy immediately,” she said.

The couple, who lived in Iowa City at the time, didn’t take Isaac to the hospital after he fell Aug. 10. But they called the nurse, who told them that if he hadn’t vomited, he hadn’t suffered a head injury.
On Aug. 13, while DeWaard was away at a church function, Dykstra called 911 and hung up. When an operator called back, Dykstra asked that paramedics come because his son was struggling to breathe.

When medical personnel arrived, they found Isaac with severe head injuries, and rushed him to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was treated for brain swelling, hemorrhaging and retinal bleeding….

…DeWaard initially told doctors and authorities that Isaac was his normal self in the days after the fall on Aug. 10. But, on the stand Monday, DeWaard said he developed bruising on his face, had more bowel movements than normal, wanted to be held more and seemed lethargic. 

“I thought he was coming down with Brian’s cold,” she said.

Dykstra’s defense attorney Leon Spies showed jurors pictures of Isaac in the days that preceded his death. One showed him sitting on his father’s lap with visible bruises on his ears. DeWaard said Isaac often pinched his own ears, which she thought was the result of stress from the adoption.

Spies also showed a photo of Isaac eating breakfast on the day before he was rushed to the hospital – two days after the short fall. The photo, which showed visible bruising around Isaac’s eyes, caused DeWaard to choke up.

“That was the last picture taken of him,” she said. “And it was unusual because he’s not smiling, and he was always smiling.”

DeWaard and her mother testified that Dykstra was a loving and gentle father, who was proud and wanted to show off his son.

“(Isaac) loved Brian,” DeWaard testified. “Isaac would sit with him and watch TV. Isaac wanted to be in the dugout with daddy. … They had a very close relationship.”

On the day Isaac was rushed to the hospital, DeWaard said Dykstra called her crying.

“I went into the emergency room, and that’s when I saw Brian,” DeWaard said. “He was a mess. He had been crying. The second I saw him, he gave me this big hug and broke down crying.”

Doctors and authorities previously testified that Dykstra appeared unemotional when they arrived at the house and rushed the child to the hospital. They also testified that the injuries that took Isaac’s life had to have occurred on the day he was hospitalized.

Iowa City Gazette, October 26, 2011
Nurse says she was concerned by father’s statements
Close friend Luke Haverhals also took the stand, stating that Isaac was a “happy kid” who showed no obvious signs of serious injury when he saw him that Friday evening.

Haverhals said that when he went to the hospital the following day, Dykstra’s demeanor, described as being “un-distressed” by a first responder during Tuesday’s testimony, was one of shock and grief.

“Sometimes [Brian] was staring off and sometimes he was sobbing,” he said.

Eastern Iowa News Now, October 31, 2011
Mother said her husband and son “had a very close relationship”
 Elizabeth Field, who said she knew the Dykstra’s through church, testified Monday that the atmosphere in the hospital when she arrived Aug. 13 was “disturbing.”

“The atmosphere was disturbing in the sense that they were accusing Brian of purposeful injury on this child,” she said. “It was troubling to see the staff’s demeanor

The Daily Iowan, November 4, 2011
Dyksata found not guilty in son’s death

Spies said he felt the testimonies of Dykstra’s friends and neighbors made the difference in the case, calling it a “nightmare compounded” that “prolonged the agony of [the child’s] death.”

“I think it was important for the jurors to hear from the many men and women who knew Brian,” Spies said. “I was moved by it.”…
Several doctors and other medical officials testified they believed the injuries they observed on the child were results of “inflicted injury.” 

First responders to the 911 call described Dykstra’s demeanor at his Iowa City home as unnaturally “calm.”

Dykstra’s neighbors and church friends spoke positively about his character.

Next-door-neighbor Carey Norton said in her testimony on Monday Dykstra was “very caring” and “very loving,” adding she would trust him to watch her own children.

“Brian can be very caring and very gentle, but [he’s] definitely someone who’s more reserved verbally,” Norton said. 

Dykstra’s character was also the main focus of Spies’ closing argument Wednesday.

“Men and women, Brian Dykstra has been described consistently as a caring, loving dad,” Spies said. “What you see about Brian is what you get; he is pretty plainspoken and quiet. He is not the killer.”

Defense Attorney Leon Spies

Immediately after the prosecution rested, defense attorney Leon Spies as the court to dismiss all charges. 

Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 30, 2011
Judge refuses to dismiss murder charges in Dykstra trial
“We have nothing here but mystery,” defense attorney Leon Spies told Judge Patrick Grady. “It cannot be said that the fatal injuries were inflicted out of malice, as opposed to by accident.”

Assistant District Attorney Anne Lahey disagreed and said that numerous doctors testified that Isaac Dykstra had to have suffered the injuries that took his life on Aug. 13, 2005 – the day his dad called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital….

…“There were devastating internal injuries in Isaac’s head caused by a malicious act such as shaking, slamming or a combination of both,” Lahey said.

Grady declined to make an immediate ruling in the case, finding that there is evidence that Dykstra killed his son “with malice and forethought” due to the nature of his injuries.

“A rational juror could conclude that the injuries occurred while he was in the sole care of the defendant,” Grady said. “And the injuries show malice, and that there was a fixed purpose to do harm.”

Asst. County Prosecutor Anne Lahey

Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 2, 2011
Defense attorney calls Iowa City toddler’s death a “tragedy, an accident”
Assistant Johnson County Attorney Anne Lahey told jurors hearing the second-degree murder trial of Brian Dykstra during closing arguments today that the couple told a half dozen people in the days preceding Isaac’s death on Aug. 14, 2005, that Isaac was doing fine despite a short fall on Aug. 10.

“Lisa had no concerns about Isaac’s health” on the morning after he fell down two stairs, Lahey said. A friend who came to the house on Aug. 12 – the day before Isaac was rushed to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics with severe head injuries – looked the toddler over and saw just a small bruise on Isaac’s cheek, Lahey said….

…During closing arguments this morning, Dykstra’s defense attorney, Leon Spies, told jurors that the “best scientific minds,” including the state medical examiner, have concluded that it’s “impossible to say that Brian Dykstra is a murder.”

“There is nothing in this case that is inconsistent with this tragedy being exactly what it is,” Spies said. “A tragedy. An accident.”…

…During closing arguments, Lahey reminded jurors about earlier bruising that doctors noticed on Isaac after the Dykstras adopted him from Russia in May 2005. And Lahey pointed out inconsistencies in Dykstra’s stories about what happened on Aug. 13 around the time he called 911.

“We don’t know how many times he slammed his head down,” Lahey said. “We don’t know how many times he shook him.”

But Spies talked to jurors about the quality of Dykstra’s character – about his dream to be a dad and the witnesses who testified to him being a loving father.

Spies stressed that several doctors and experts said toddlers can die from injuries suffered in short falls that develop over several days.

“It’s not fair to judge Brian on the statistics that death from a stairway fall is rare,” Spies said. “We don’t take comfort in the mysteries of this case.”

But, Spies said, if there are doubts, “they have to be resolved in Brian’s favor.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 3, 2011
Deliberations resume in Iowa City murder trial 
Dykstra’s defense attorney presented medical experts who said that, although rare, children have been known to die from short falls. The defense also hinted that Isaac, who was adopted just a few months earlier from an orphanage in Russia, might have had unknown medical issues that were not fully disclosed.

During closing arguments in Dystra’s trial, Assistant Johnson County Attorney Anne Lahey told jurors that prosecutors didn’t have to prove how Dykstra killed his son – whether he slammed him or shook him – they had to prove only that he inflicted the fatal injuries, and Lahey reminded jurors that several University of Iowa doctors said the severe injuries only could have occurred shortly before Isaac was hospitalized, when he was in the sole care of his father.

But Dykstra’s defense attorney told jurors that even the Iowa Medical Examiner couldn’t say for sure whether Isaac’s death was a murder or accident. And, he said, any doubts had to be resolved in his client’s favor.

“The evidence was clear that Brian was not the kind of man or father who would kill a child they worked so hard to have in their family,” Spies said after the verdict Thursday. “It was a nightmare compounded too long.”

Getting the verdict

Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 3, 2011
Iowa City murder suspect found not guilty
A 12-member jury has found Brian Dykstra not guilty of killing his 21-month-old son in 2005…After hearing the verdict, Dykstra started weeping and buried his face in the shoulder of his attorney Leon Spies. Many of his supporters also started sobbing when the verdict was read, including his former wife, Lisa DeWaard

“This means we can finally grieve our son,” a teary-eyed Lisa DeWaard said after hearing the not guilty verdict in her ex-husband’s trial. “It’s been six very very long years.”


I’ve posted more here than I planned to, so I’ll keep my comments short.

I followed this trial through press reports each day, which naturally limits our knowledge of the trial.  I’m really surprised, though, at the verdict, which I thought, until today, was a slam dunk for the state..After the prolonged investigation, large numbers of witnesses questioned over that time, and numerous trial postponements, I thought the state would have had a strong enough case to convict.. In fact, I believe  the state made its case. The physical evidence presented by the many prosecution witnesses-(police, EMT, and medical) is overwhelming and  based in science not neighborly anecdote.

It was clear though that “character” was the only real chance Brian Dykstra had.

I wrote most of this entry in the early hours of Friday and made the supposition then that “character” had been the defense.  Now, we see Leon Spies quoted in the Daily Iowan, admitting the strategy. Certainly character counts and should, but I simply can’t comprehend how secondhand observations trump scientific evidence and expert testimony–especially since the Dykstra camp couldn’t come up with genuine counter arguments. I wish they had.  I’d feel better about the verdict.

Without actually attending the trial every day, it is difficult to deconstruct testimony and reporting. We, too are only observers. Two pieces of testimony, though, described in the press, jumped out at me:  the conflicting testimony between Brian Dykstra regarding Isaac’s appearance the week of his death:

“To the normal average person, he looked fine,” he said. “But, looking back, there was a lot more going on there than just a fall.”

and Lisa DeWaard:

Dykstra’s defense attorney Leon Spies showed jurors pictures of Isaac in the days that preceded his death. One showed him sitting on his father’s lap with visible bruises on his ears. DeWaard said Isaac often pinched his own ears, which she thought was the result of stress from the adoption.

Spies also showed a photo of Isaac eating breakfast on the day before he was rushed to the hospital – two days after the short fall. The photo, which showed visible bruising around Isaac’s eyes, caused DeWaard to choke up.

“That was the last picture taken of him,” she said. “And it was unusual because he’s not smiling, and he was always smiling.”

Something’s not right in Iowa City.

Only Brian Dykstra knows what happened, and too many questions will never be answered.

So far there are no comments from the jury, and the Russian government has not made a statement.  If there are additions, I’ll put them up later.
November 18, 2003, Krasnoyarsk – August 14, 2005, Iowa City Iowa

Nikto ne zabyt – Nichto ne zabyto

Go to my Russian blog Nikto Ne Zabut — Nichto Ne Zabyto for more information on the case.

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5 Replies to “Brian Dykstra Acquitted in Death of Adopted Russian Son Isaac Dykstra”

  1. Hey Morons,

    Numerous medical experts including the State medical examiner testified that the death could very likely have been related to the “short” fall (on to concrete).

    I would wish the same kind of pain and suffering that the Dykstra/DeWaard families have endured on you except that I wish no harm to any child.

    The loving parents of this child deserve your sympathies (and apologies).

    Go bark up another tree…

  2. I’ve worked in the criminal justice system (for the defense) and I know how it works.The church one this one. If you think what I say is bad, is bad, you should see what people who work in adoption reform are saying.

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