Pattern emerges from doctor’s deposition

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 5, 2001

Makaio Lynn Radke had suspicious bruising months before he was killed in late April, and his growth was rapidly slowing as early as the October before, a doctor testified Friday.

Sunday, August 05, 2001

Makaio Lynn Radke had suspicious bruising months before he was killed in late April, and his growth was rapidly slowing as early as the October before, a doctor testified Friday.

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Radke was a frequent patient at the Albert Lea Medical Center Clinic, suffering from recurrent respiratory and ear infections, said Dr. Mohammed G. Soud, former pediatrician for the Albert Lea Medical Center, in a videotaped deposition.

The deposition will be used as evidence in the trial against Paul Gutierrez, accused of sexually and physically abusing Radke until he died this spring.

Saud saw Radke several times between October, 2000 and February, 2001, and reported his family to Child Protective Services as a possible case of neglect on Feb. 28.

&uot;The concern was he was growing at a certain level, or a certain curve on his growth chart, and I think at age 12 months of age, his weight at this time started to drop,&uot; Saud said. &uot;It dropped to a level that is below normal.&uot;

On October 13, Radke’s mother Peggy Radke brought him in because he had a bronchial infection and earache, Soud said. At that time, Radke weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces, and he was short for his age. Saud ordered a number of tests to see if Radke’s stunted growth was a symptom of a medical condition, but all the tests came back normal, he said. So he talked to Peggy Radke about proper nutrition, urging her to cut back on Radke’s bottles and encourage him to eat more solid food.

But when Saud saw Radke again for a physical on February 1, the child only weighed 21 pounds. At 16 months old, he still couldn’t walk alone, and could only speak a couple of words – still developmentally normal, but on the late side. He continued to have problems with recurrent respiratory and ear infections.

&uot;There was a concern about his height and weight at that time,&uot; he said. &uot;That it continued to slightly drop.&uot;

At four months, Radke was close to 50th percentile in height and weight. By nine months, he had dropped to the 15th percentile, and at 12 months he was below the fifth percentile, Soud said.

&uot;And actually, so on, he dropped lower and lower,&uot; he said.

On Feb. 28, his last day working at the Albert Lea Medical Center, Saud saw Radke again, for another lower respiratory infection and impetigo, a skin infection. This time, Saud found suspicious injuries on the child’s face – a half-inch bruise on both cheeks. Peggy Radke said it was because he had fallen while walking, but Saud said it would be unlikely to bruise both sides of the face in a fall.

&uot;I thought…that someone was angry and squeezed the child’s cheeks,&uot; he said.

&uot;This raised a suspicion that these could be non-accidental bruising, so I asked my nurse to call the child protection agency,&uot; Saud said. &uot;This particularly was my last day, so I don’t know what happened after that with child protection.&uot;

Saud said he does not refer a lot of injuries to child protection officers, but a constellation of different observations on Radke – his failure to thrive, the suspicious bruises and reoccurring infections – led him to believe the child may have been neglected. In talking to his nurses about their observations concerning Peggy Radke and her children, they agreed.

&uot;When we made this call we did not call it physical abuse, we thought, well if this child is falling a lot, falling twice hurting his cheeks, he’s not growing enough, maybe we should have somebody look at this household,&uot; Saud said.

During her visits, Peggy Radke was firm with her son, but not abnormally so, Saud said. But she did seem nervous and defensive in her interaction with the doctor, he said.

She did not mention that Paul Gutierrez had been watching her children regularly, or that she had recently been divorced from Radke’s father, he said.

Paul Gutierrez has been charged with two counts of first degree murder by sexual conduct and child abuse, and one count of second degree murder in connection with Radke’s April 21 death at his home. Gutierrez was babysitting the child when he died, investigators say.

The prosecution will also offer for evidence testimony from a three-year-old child who told police she was also sexually and physically abused by Gutierrez, said Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson.

The prosecution won’t bring charges against Gutierrez for the alleged crimes, believed to have taken place in January and April of this year, because the victim is too young to deliver uncorroborated testimony, and there was not enough physical evidence to prosecute, said Nelson. But he will offer the statements made by the girl as evidence of prior bad acts by Gutierrez.

The girl told investigators that Gutierrez engaged her in sexual intercourse by inserting a black plastic rod into her anus, and spanking her on the buttocks with it, Nelson said. In a separate incident, he pulled a clump of hair from her head, she said.

Prosecutors believe the events to have occurred on Jan. 15 and April 21.

A judge will decide if the evidence of other bad acts will be admissible to the trial against Gutierrez for first-degree murder.