Dead disabled toddler was found with bruising, bite mark - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Doctors: Dead disabled toddler was found with bruising, bite mark

A picture of Ginny Hughes. (Source: Facebook) A picture of Ginny Hughes. (Source: Facebook)
Coroner Wooten addresses the media in early 2011 Coroner Wooten addresses the media in early 2011

Doctors and paramedics say that a dead disabled North Charleston toddler was found with a bite mark on her body and bruising around the mouth and forehead.

Medical officials testified during a coroner's inquest on Friday that a bite mark was found on the body of 2-year-old Ginny Hughes. The inquest is set to determine the manner of death for Hughes, who died at the Medical University of South Carolina on July 4.

Doctors said they were not sure if the bite mark found on Hughes came from an animal or human. One doctor also testified that Hughes was harmed by someone in a way that cut off oxygen to her system.

Medical officials also say that they noticed that Hughes' behavior had changed during regular doctor appointments. Doctors testified that Hughes was very shy and not talking as much as she used to.

According to medical officials, Hughes started having unexplained seizures and brain trauma in April. Following an ER visit on April 29, DSS workers took Hughes and her siblings into custody after deeming her home life as unstable.

More witnesses are expected to give their testimony during the inquest which is being held by Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten at the Lonnie Hamilton III Public Services Building.

Wooten said Hughes died from a noxic brain injury, meaning a lack of oxygen to the brain.

"The inquest will show what led up to the child's death; whether it was natural, accidental, or homicidal," said Wooten.

According to a North Charleston Police Department incident report, officers arrived at Hughes' home on Brossy Circle around 1 p.m. on July 2 to find the child lying on the floor, unresponsive. The report states Hughes' eyes were open and her skin was partially blue.

According to the report, the toddler suffered from a genetic disorder that resulted in her not having full development of her legs from the knee down.

Hughes, along with her 3-month-old and 3-year-old siblings, were being watched by a 17-year-old woman, who told police she cared for them while their mother worked at Waffle House.

When asked about what happened, the babysitter said Hughes told her she was sleepy so she took her into the bedroom to lie down. About 20 minutes later, the babysitter said she returned to check on Ginny, and discovered she was unresponsive, although she was still warm.

At that point, the babysitter said she realized the toddler wasn't breathing, so she first called the child's mother, and then called 911.

An officer on scene noted slight bruising on the arm and torso of Hughes, and the babysitter explained Ginny often attempted to walk and would fall due to her birth defect. The babysitter also told police Hughes "had been suffering with seizures, infections, and dehydration."

Another incident report from May 10 indicates a complainant called police because she was concerned about possible child abuse. The complainant told North Charleston police that on April 29, around 8 p.m., the toddler was taken to Trident Medical Center, and then MUSC Pediatric Hospital, for treatment of seizures.

Tests at MUSC revealed brain and retinal hemorrhages on the child. The child was released shortly after. Once the complainant contacted the Department of Social Services, Hughes was taken into protective custody.

It is unknown how long the toddler stayed in protective custody.

Wooten hopes an inquest will help her make a ruling on the cause of death, which is still undetermined. "An inquest is a powerful tool for me to gather facts, and at the end of the day, the jury is charged with getting back to me a decision on the manner of death," she said Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 WCSC.  All rights reserved.

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