Crane trial continues into fourth day since April

2012-10-02T16:29:00Z 2012-10-04T10:56:04Z Crane trial continues into fourth day since AprilWENDY MITCHELL Ledger Independent
October 02, 2012 4:29 pm  • 

GEORGETOWN, Ohio | Getting the trial of Robert Crane back up to speed after a five-month hiatus included Brown County Court of Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler and court staff attorney reading the transcript of testimony from the beginning of the trial in April, aloud to the jury on Monday.

On March 17, 2011, Christine Crane was found unresponsive in her Aberdeen, Ohio, home by her husband, Robert Crane.

She was pronounced dead at Meadowview Regional Medical Center in Maysville.

Robert Crane was later indicted and charged with actions which contributed to her death, including administering heroin to her and involuntary manslaughter.

Testimony issues in April interrupted the trial, which had to wait for a court calendar opening before it continued.

The original jurors returned for the continuation, with the exception of one who told the court he could not continue as a juror and was replaced by an alternate.

On Monday, Dr. Gregory Wanger, forensic pathologist for the Northern Office of Kentucky Medical Examiner,  who performed the autopsy on  Christine Crane, picked up an authentication process from April.

Wanger was asked to review several external visual examination photographs of the autopsy of Cranes body when it first arrived at his office.

According to Wanger, there were no obvious external indications of intravenous drug abuse, like puncture marks or scarring, visible on her body.

He acknowledged there were other methods of drug use possible which would not show scarring.

Wanger attributed Christine Crane's death to heroin toxicity, based on lab results from blood, urine and eye fluid, he said.

Brown County Deputy Wayne Bingaman testified about processing the Crane home as a crime scene, including the discovery of several syringes around the house, a substance on a spoon and plate under the bed in the master bedroom and multiple holes in walls, doors and cabinets throughout the interior of the home.

Robert Crane's medical condition after his wife was taken to the hospital in 2011, was also questioned by officials who had him taken to Meadowview for observation later the same day.

While there, Ronert Crane was treated by Dr. Brandon Haage, with medication for stabilization of opiate use, called Narcam.

According to Haage, Crane was in a lethargic state and unable to answer questions properly, even responding to the question of marital status as “single.”

Crane told Haage he had used heroin, Haage said.

Crane's attorney, Nick Ring objected to the statement, but was overruled by Gusweiler.

“He said he took 1/16th to 1/32nd of a gram,” Haage said. “Heroin can reduce respiratory functions and can be fatal.”

Testimony by Travis Worst, a forensic scientist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, included the conclusion the residue on the plate and spoon were “consistent with heroin.”

Testimony came to an abrupt halt after Paramedic Craig R. Hauke began to explain his role in going to the Crane home on March 17.

The jury left the courtroom and all the attorneys were called into Gusweiler's chambers for a discussion.

They returned several minutes later and the jury was called in, passing Hauke at the door.

Due to a need to research “corpus delicti rules,” Gusweiler ended the session for the day and asked the jury to return at 8:15 a.m., Tuesday to continue the trial.

On Tuesday,  Gusweiler allowed testimony to continue.

“I have a dead body; a dead body that tested positive for opiates ... The court is satisfied … corpus delicti has been established,” Gusweiler said. “A crime, though we don't know which one, has taken place.”

Robert Crane allegedly told a 911 operator and a paramedic, his wife, had overdosed on heroin before she was pronounced dead at Meadowview Regional Medical Center.

Hauke was allowed to continue once Gusweiler's corpus delicti ruling was announced.

Hauke said he encountered Robert Crane at the door of the home and was allegedly told the problem was a “heroin overdose.”

Hauke also explained methods attempted to revive Christine Crane, including administering Narcam, a product used to offset the effects of opiate use.

Resuscitation measures were continued until she was pronounced dead at the hospital, he said.

Crane allegedly later told Hauke he had taken 1/16th to 1/32nd of a gram of heroin, but Crane did not appear to be in distress, Hauke said.

Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little asked Hauke about Christine Crane's appearance when he arrived; asking if there appeared to be water on her body.

Hauke said he had checked on the body or near it because water could pose a danger when a defibrillator was used.

“She was dry,” Hauke said.

In cross-examination, Ring asked Hauke about Christine Crane's hair and whether it was wet when he checked her body.

Hauke paused.

“Did you check her hair,” Ring repeated.

“No.” Hauke said.

Little asked Hauke in redirect if he observed her head, to which Ring objected and Gusweiler sustained the objection as “...asked and answered.”

Little rephrased the question and Gusweiler allowed Hauke to answer.

“There was nothing to report,” Hauke said.

Next to testify was the doctor who treated Christine Crane when she arrived at MRMC.

Dr. Douglas Smith, concentrating on medical records he had made March 17, 2011, explained, Crane had first arrived as a “Jane Doe” in cardiac arrest.

Based on the information that he had, that she had been last seen alive at 5 a.m., her pupils were fixed and dilated, she had no reflexes, and subsequent attempts to revive her for over an hour were unsuccessful; there was no hope of resuscitation and she was pronounced dead, Smith said.

A witness from the beginning days of the trial in April , Nowana Bingaman, was also asked to briefly testify to authenticate documents related to the Brown County 911 Communications Center report of the incident.

She was followed by Brown County Investigator Buddy Moore, who testified about what was found by him during the warranted search of Crane's home on March 17, 2011.

Moore said he attempted to speak with Robert Crane at MRMC, “but he was not able to respond.”

Moore also spoke with several people from Christine Crane's workplace, Mitsubishi in Maysville, at the request of the employees, he said.

In cross-examination by Ring, Moore said he could not recall if there was residue on the plate and spoon he found in a plastic tub under the bed.

Before a late morning break, jurors viewed two depositions by lab experts from DNA Diagnostics Center, who had processed the syringe and needle found at the residence.

They determined a major contributor of DNA on parts of the syringe and needle was Robert Crane, with inclusion of Christine Crane as a minor contributor of DNA on the top of the syringe plunger, but excluded her from having DNA on the needle. A third, unidentified contributor was also found on the plunger.

The technician added, she had attempted to take the needle off the syringe and could not remove it.

Testimony is expected to continue through the week.

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