RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

Duewa Lee, seen at an Oct. 7 court hearing, is accused of torturing a 12-year-old girl.

Graphic testimony in child-abuse trial of father's fiance

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 3:23 pm

The prosecutor showed a horror movie Monday in Department 18.

Slide by slide, the photos documented the injuries suffered by a 12-year-old girl who testified last week that she had been whipped, kicked, beaten and burned by the fiancée of her imprisoned father.

Dr. Angie Rosas took the pictures. The pediatrician at Sacramento's Sutter Memorial Hospital, who specializes in child sexual and physical abuse, told a Sacramento Superior Court jury the injuries made it look as though the girl had been in a car wreck.

"It was definitely a case of child physical abuse," Rosas testified, describing what she identified as "branding" injuries inflicted on the girl's buttocks, "multiple loop cord marks," a chipped tooth, a cauliflower ear resulting from being stapled, and severe – even life-threatening – internal abdominal injuries.

"Those are all physical-abuse injuries," Rosas said.

Last week, the girl, whose name is being withheld because she is an alleged domestic violence victim, identified Duewa Abeana Lee, 37, as the woman who tortured her – and torture is one of the 12 felony counts for which Lee is on trial.

Lee's lawyer, Mike Nelson, told jurors in his opening statement last week that his client is innocent, that it was the girl's father, Wade Curtis Carter, who battered and abused her.

Carter, 40, testified Monday that he had nothing to do with his girl's injuries.

Arrested for robbery on July 28, 2011, and later convicted on his no-contest plea, Carter said his daughter told him even before he went to jail that Lee "was hitting on me."

He said he confronted his fiancée about it.

"I told her, 'That's my heart,' " Carter testified, in reference to his daughter. "I don't play like that. If you hit my daughter, I'm gone."

A little more than a month after his conviction, Lee took Carter's daughter, on Sept. 30, 2011, to a Department of Motor Vehicles office. During their wait, the girl said Lee left her alone for a few minutes, which was long enough for her to tell a stranger she needed help, that she was being abused. The stranger told a clerk, who told the CHP, which came to the DMV office and arrested Lee.

Housed at the state Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran where he is serving a four-year term, Carter wept on the witness stand as Deputy District Attorney Nancy Cochrane ran down the list of specific injuries his daughter had suffered and asked if he was responsible for any of them, one by one.

Did he ever punch her or push her fingers back? Did he ever push her down the stairs or whip her with a belt? Did he ever choke her?

Carter appeared stunned at the mere asking of the questions, at what his daughter had no doubt endured at the hands of someone, as evidenced by the pictures that would come into court later.

"No, ma'am," Carter said.

Did you ever push her down and kick her? Did you ever take a stapler and staple her ear? Did you ever make her stand in the corner with her arms over her head for any period of time? Did you ever hit her with an extension cord?

"No, ma'am," he replied each time, dropping his face beneath his hand, his voice cracking.

Cochrane showed him a spatula and a comb and asked if he'd ever hit her with one of those. With a frying pan? Across the back because she wasn't doing the dishes fast enough? Did you ever burn her with a clothes iron? Was there ever a time you didn't feed your daughter?

"No, ma'am," Carter wept. "That's my heart."

Then came Rosas and the pictures. She described the "flat affect" the girl showed during the examination.

"No expression whatsoever," Rosas testified, before Cochrane went through an estimated 100 photos taken of the girl's injuries.

The scars and bruises worked down to her ankles, starting on the right side of her face. Her right ear was bruised, suggestive of a slap injury, Rosas said. She had cauliflower ear on the left side, from being stapled, the result similar to that of a boxer who had been in the ring too long. The bruises on her torso took on a deeper color around her belly button, beneath which her liver had been lacerated and her pancreas crushed, consistent with where the girl said she had been kicked.

Rosas characterized the abdominal injuries as "life-threatening."

The girl's buttocks showed two burn wounds several inches wide and long.

"She said her stepmother burned her with a very hot metal spatula," Rosas testified.

Scars and bruises covered the girl's back and legs and arms. The electrical-cord lashings left 25 to 50 identifiable markings, according to Rosas.

"It appeared her entire body was covered with injuries," Rosas said. "There were too many to count."

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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