Infant murder trial begins in Ketchikan

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

KETCHIKAN - A Ketchikan teenager is on trial for the death of his girlfriend's infant son last year.

Opening statements were presented Tuesday in the case against 17-year-old Josh Rowden, charged as an adult with first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter in the April 2002 death of 7-week-old Adrian Fackrell.

Rowden's attorneys claim the state is disregarding evidence.

Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West told jurors in his opening statement that Adrian Fackrell was born March 5, 2002, and was healthy in two examinations that month. But when Rowden and his girlfriend, Leah Fackrell, brought the infant for an exam April 16, 2002, the infant had severe injuries.

The baby was rushed to Ketchikan General Hospital's emergency room and then to Children's Hospital in Seattle, where Adrian died of meningitis April 27.

West said that in an April 26 interrogation in Seattle, Rowden admitted previously shaking Adrian until the infant stopped breathing.

In her opening statement, Assistant Public Defender Barbara Kissner said Rowden was 16 when he met 18-year-old Leah Fackrell in Oregon. Rowden was willing to try to support Leah and her child and was happy to be a father to the baby, said Kissner.

Police immediately focused on Rowden because he was the boyfriend, Kissner said. She said the defense will show that the state's witnesses exaggerated the baby's injuries, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

"Please listen to the evidence they have chosen to disregard," Kissner told the jury.

Ketchikan Police Investigator Shirley Colby was the prosecution's first witness. She testified about the April 26 interview and about the process of learning about and investigating the alleged abuse.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks is presiding over the trial.

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