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Toddler Severely Bruised At Preliminary Hearing, Doctor Describes Wounds On 2-Year-Old Christina Campanelli When She Died

When 2-year-old Christina Campanelli died she had nine bruises on her back, five bruises on her buttocks, several marks on her face and wounds on her feet.

Bruises on a toddler are normal - but not that many, Dr. Alan Hendrickson told a judge during a preliminary hearing for Eileen Campanelli and Federico Cortez.

The Rathdrum couple is accused of injuring Eileen Campanelli’s daughter, Christina, who died Sept. 24.

During testimony Wednesday and Thursday, friends, neighbors and baby sitters described burn marks, patches of missing hair and dark bruises they noticed on the toddler during the months before she died.

Judge Barry Watson will decide today whether there is enough evidence to send the couple to trial on the felony charges.

Eileen Campanelli, her youngest daughter Christina and her 5-year-old daughter Maria had been living with Cortez at his home in Rathdrum.

On Sept. 20, Cortez carried Christina into Kootenai Medical Center. She was unconscious.

A hospital receptionist testified Thursday that when Cortez brought the girl in, he said the toddler had hurt herself falling off a couch.

Coeur d’Alene Police Detective Chuck Fritts testified that Cortez told him the girl had been playing outside and hit her head on some railroad ties.

Dr. Terence Neff said the girl appeared to be suffering from “shaken baby syndrome.” Her brain was swelling and bleeding and the blood vessels in her eyes had broken.

The violent shaking of a child or a fall from several stories can cause such injuries, Neff said.

“(Cortez) said he did not shake the child,” the doctor testified Wednesday. Instead, Cortez told the doctor that the girl had fallen into an object two days before he brought her to the hospital.

She was flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center where she died four days later.

Lansing Haynes, Kootenai County deputy prosecutor, did not call the girl’s older sister to testify about the death. However, he did try Thursday to present statements the young girl had made to a foster parent.

The girl told the foster parent that she and her sister had been spanked by both Cortez and Campanelli, but that Cortez spanked harder and spanked Christina all the time, Haynes told the judge.

Maria also said the two adults often pulled the children’s hair. But Maria also said she missed and loved her mom and Cortez.

“She said it didn’t matter because they loved her and her sister and they weren’t going to do that anymore,” Haynes said.

Judge Watson, however, decided the statements could not be used as evidence, in part because the defendants’ lawyers would not be able to question the child.

Theresa Rosenlund, a waitress at Jimmy D’s restaurant, testified Thursday that she had worked with Eileen Campanelli for about a year.

Earlier this summer, Campanelli decided to take Christina to a doctor to be checked out, Rosenlund said. Campanelli was concerned because her young daughter had so many bruises and was losing her hair.

When she came back from the doctor’s office, Campanelli told Rosenlund that the doctors suspected child abuse was the cause of the marks.” Rosenlund testified.

On Thursday Cortez’s attorney questioned whether police know exactly when or how the child was injured.

“What evidence is there that Rick Cortez shook this child?” Tim Gresback asked.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo



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