A Common Pleas Court jury is scheduled to begin hearing the case Monday of a West Goshen woman authorities say murdered a 20-month-old child that was in her care more than four years ago.
Hainan “Chelsea” Chang is charged with third degree murder, manslaughter, and related offenses in the death of the baby whose parents were paying her family to care for while they worked in Florida.
Authorities contend the child died for what is commonly known as “shaken baby syndrome” — multiple subdural blunt force injuries to the head.
Chang, who was the child’s sole caregiver in the time before his death, said he had been unresponsive for more than 20 hours before she brought him to the emergency room at Chester County Hospital the morning of Jan. 8, 2015
On Friday, jury selection took place before Judge Ann Marie Wheatcraft in Courtroom One of the Chester County Justice Center. At the conclusion of the process, six men and six women were chosen as jurors, along with four alternates.
The panel was chosen from a pool of 94 county residents, who were given a seven page questionnaire to fill out concerning their personal background as well as their knowledge of the case. They were also asked whether they could render a fair and impartial verdict based on the nature of the case — severe child abuse of an infant — which at least six panelists said they could not and were excused.
Chang, 44, is being represented by defense attorneys Evan Kelly and Vince Caputo, both of West Chester. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Megan McCarthy King and Assistant District Attorney Erin Patricia O’Brien, both of the DA’s Child Abuse Unit.
The trial is expected to last through the week. More than 70 possible witnesses are listed, including the child’s parents, teachers at public and private schools in the West Chester area, and two Buddhist masters.
Chang is a Chinese national, and will hear testimony in the case through court translators.
According to the complaint filed against Chang in March 2018 by West Goshen Detective David S. Maurer and Lt. Michael Carroll, Chang was paid $2,000 a month by the child’s parents to care for him. The parents live in Florida, where they operate a restaurant, and needed someone to look after the child as their work schedules made it difficult.
In an interview with investigators, Wei Feng “Mandy” Dong, the child’s maternal aunt, said she had approached Chang and her husband, Siu Fung Lee, about serving as caregivers in early 2014. The couple has two school age children of their own. They began caring of the boy in March of that year, when he was a 1-year-old.
Chang gave police a long narrative about the time between Jan. 7, 2015, and Jan. 8, 2015, when she was looking after the boy on her own because her husband was at work on the overnight shift in Philadelphia. She and her husband both said at the time that there were no obvious injuries to the boy in the days before his death.
According to the complaint, Chang said Jan. 7, 2015 started off as a normal day as her children went to school. She said she fed the boy around noon and later took him out of his high chair and placed him on the kitchen floor. While she was in her son’s bedroom, she heard the child begin to cry and went to check on him. She said she found him under the kitchen table, and had to get down on the floor to drag him out from underneath.
Chang said the child had a red mark on his forehead, and that when she picked him up he vomited. She sat with him until he stopped crying, she told police, and then put him back in his high chair, where he seemed to go to sleep.
Lee, Chang’s husband, told police that he saw the boy in the high chair about 3 p.m. that day when he returned home from work, and that he appeared to be asleep. He stayed there until 4:30 p.m., when she moved him to a sofa, but he still was not moving or responding. Both Lee and Chang said they thought he was asleep.
Chang reported that she tried to feed the boy and change his diaper around 11 p.m.; he did not swallow but let the food run out of his mouth. She said she put him in bed because his hands were cold, but that through the night he never moved or woke up.
The next morning, Chang said, the boy was still in bed and appeared to be sleeping, so she got her children ready for school.
When she put him in his high chair, he slumped over to the side and was not responding. She put him in bed, walked her children to catch the school bus, and checked on the boy, whose face was now cold, his hands rigid, and legs stiff. His lips were white.
She and her husband took the boy to the hospital at about 9:40 a.m. He was declared dead at 10:13 a.m.
The boy’s death was reported to Maurer by county Chief Deputy Coroner David Garver shortly thereafter. When the detective responded to the hospital, a nurse, Jennifer Walsh, told him she had concerns about the case because the boy had bruises on his forehead, a scratch on his neck and shoulder, and his body temperature was only 82 when Chang arrived with him at the emergency room.
An autopsy revealed that the boy had acute subdural hematoma, cerebral edema, and hemorrhages around his eyes. He also head blunt trauma to the torso and upper extremities, but no healing or healed fractures or chronic brain injuries were found, according to the complaint.
Later, an examination was conducted by a pediatric expert at Willis Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, who concluded that the boy was the victim of “abusive head trauma characterized by repeated acceleration-deceleration with likely blunt head impact”— much like shaken infant syndrome.
In October 2017, Dr. Tracey Corey, the chief medical examiner for Kentucky, completed a comprehensive forensic pathology review, according to the complaint. “Noting the lack of any significant trauma to explain the injuries suffered by the child, Dr. Corey’s report indicates that the cause of death is a traumatic brain injury,” the complaint states. “She states that in her opinion, the manner of death is a homicide.”
This article was originally published by DailyLocal.com.
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.