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Attorney: W.Va. child's autopsy photos too gruesome to show

August 31, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The attorney for a woman to be tried this week in the death of her infant son asked a circuit judge Monday to restrict the presentation of autopsy photographs, which he argued were gruesome.

The color photographs depict skull fractures to 7-month-old Skylar Trigg Boggs, who died Aug. 19, 2008, as a result of blunt-force trauma, police have said.

The boy's mother, Monica W. Boggs of Hedgesville, W.Va., was indicted on charges of death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and gross child neglect creating substantial risk of bodily injury.

Her trial was scheduled to start Tuesday morning.

Boggs, 20, wiped tears from her eyes and held fingers over her ears as attorneys and 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III discussed three images.

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Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely said one of the photographs that she wanted to show jurors at Boggs' trial most accurately depicts a large skull fracture in color, rather than being converted to black and white.

In a motion filed Monday asking the court to review the photographs, defense attorney B. Craig Manford said the images in question show "layers of scalp and body tissue 'peeled back' from the skull to expose the significant fracture" and argued that black-and-white images could be substituted.

After much discussion, Silver asked the attorneys to attempt to reach an agreement on an acceptable presentation of the images after Manford suggested he could possibly produce a "gray-scale version" and Games-Neely seemed agreeable to cropping the peeled tissue from the image shown to jurors.

Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine's office was expected to notify 55 people to appear for jury duty Tuesday morning.

While acknowledging the case had garnered significant media attention, attorneys told Silver they did not wish to increase the size of the jury pool.

Last month, Boggs turned down a plea offer from Games-Neely, who was willing to dismiss the gross child neglect charge in exchange for guilty pleas to the other counts.

Silver then denied a motion by Manford to delay his client's trial for unspecified medical reasons.

Police have said Boggs admitted throwing a bottle at the child on Aug. 16, 2008, at their home. Attempts to revive the child were unsuccessful.

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