Freshwater Day 16: Whose Arm?

| 28 Comments

There will be no extended report tonight. I have other commitments. I’ll post full reports of today’s and tomorrow’s testimony sometime over the weekend.

However, one major claim was made in testimony today. Ben Nielson, a classmate of Zachary Dennis, testified that the arm he saw in a newspaper picture which was identified as Zachary’s arm showing the injury, was not Zachary’s arm. Nielson testified that he saw a mark on Zachary’s arm shortly after the incident in December 2007, and the mark was significantly smaller than that in the picture and was on the inside of the arm rather than on the outside as the picture apparently shows.

Ben testified that when he saw the photograph in the newspaper, he exclaimed “That’s not Zach’s arm.” His father corroborated the account.

Neither Ben nor his father Mark, who also testified briefly, could remember when they saw the newspaper picture or which newspaper it was in. Zachary Dennis’ identity was not made public until October 4, 2008, on the first day of Freshwater’s termination hearing, while photographs of Zach’s arm were published considerably earlier without identification.

(If anyone in the comments can identify the date of the earliest news photo of Zachary’s arm, specifically identified as Zachary Dennis’ arm, in the Mount Vernon News or Columbus Dispatch I’d appreciate it.)

28 Comments

Ok, can someone explain to me how this matters? Why do the newspaper photographs matter?

Friday June 20th 2008 - Columbus Dispatch

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/liv[…]html?sid=101

Does that help?? It’s the earliest I could find.

The Wikipedia article on Freshwater has the same picture which has the caption …

A picture in the report released by Mount Vernon City School District of the branding.

None of the photos I could find had a name with them.

Ben testified that when he saw the photograph in the newspaper, he exclaimed “That’s not Zach’s arm.” His father corroborated the account.

There was something about the photos in your Freshwater Hearing: 3rd Day post:

Jenifer Dennis Direct Examination

Zach’s mother Jenifer testified next. She related how Zach came home from school and showed her the mark. She was concerned, but with a neighbor there and Zach due to be driven 1.5 hours to hockey practice (for the obvious reason that Mt. Vernon doesn’t have any ice) she didn’t make a big deal of it then. She did take two pictures of the injury with her digital camera. Later her husband called her from the rink and said Zach was complaining of pain in his arm and was using it strangely on the rink. He took pictures of it with his cell phone.

If this is correct the information in the background of the photo should be sufficient to identify the location where it has been taken.If the photo was taken in the Dennis house or in some other Dennis related place the Nielsons may have a problem.

Later in that 3rd day post you’ve stated

[Added in edit 11/2/08] Mother informed me that she actually took the pictures late that night after Zachary arrived home following hockey practice, and that’s what she recalled testifying. That’s plausible – my notes are occasionally fragmentary. Her husband took cell phone pictures of Zachary’s arm at hockey practice.

Thus, it should be posible to identify the locations where the pictures have been taken.

Joshua Zelinsky said:

Ok, can someone explain to me how this matters? Why do the newspaper photographs matter?

Is Freshwater’s defense really going to argue that he burned a different child, so it’s okay? The fact remains that he inflicted lasting physical harm on a minor child entrusted to his care. He should have been in JAIL long ago!

I think there’s some confusion on what and why he’s looking for. If it is “not Zach’s arm” than the damage was invented and the charges could be fraudulent, even if there’s another child involved. He wants to know the first time that a paper *published* the pictures with his name to establish that the supposed witness could not possibly have made this statement.

When that picture was published, weren’t the plaintiffs trying to keep the child’s name out of the proceedings? Why should the defendants expect that the photo be attributed to any specific child before the time the judge okayed the defendant’s move to make that name public?

Benji: even if it’s not Zach’s arm, I can’t see the witness doesn’t seem all that great for the defense. Sounds like he said the damage that was done wasn’t as bad as what’s been shown – so there still was damage. (“Nielson testified that he saw a mark on Zachary’s arm shortly after the incident in December 2007,” but the details didn’t match up.)

It’s amazing how wacky the defense is getting. Sad, but amazing nonetheless.

Since the picture was taken by a cell phone there should be metadata in the JPEG file that identifies date and time.

Second, does anyone recall reading reports of Freshwater or his supporters challenging the veracity of the kid’s injury?

They might be trying to establish a basis of doubt because there is still a civil case pending against Freshwater, if I recall correctly.

Interesting story today in Mount Vernon news relating to this … http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]oto-evidence

Also, isn’t it true that the pictures published in the newspapers are not evidence?? The evidence would be the cell phone pictures and the pictures that the Dennis family took.

Stacy said:

Friday June 20th 2008 - Columbus Dispatch

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/liv[…]html?sid=101

Does that help?? It’s the earliest I could find.

That’s great, Stacy. Many thanks! That June 20, 2008, newspaper picture is the exact image that Ben Nielson testified he saw – he identified the exhibit photograph entered as evidence in the hearing late last year as the one he saw in the newspaper. That specific pose was the one Nielson said in the hearing was not Zachary’s arm. And, as noted, Zachary was not publicly identified until October 4, 2008, nearly four months later. So the story Ben and his father told about Ben exclaiming “That’s not Zach’s arm” when he saw the newspaper is fishy in the extreme.

Unfortunately, the hearing testimony did not pin down when that little scene purportedly occurred. There was a distinct failure of memory on that score.

Cheryl asked

When that picture was published, weren’t the plaintiffs trying to keep the child’s name out of the proceedings? Why should the defendants expect that the photo be attributed to any specific child before the time the judge okayed the defendant’s move to make that name public?

You’re right: That’s the question.

According to the Dispatch, Ben and his father claimed to have seen the named photo last spring! Is that an error on the reporter’s part?

http://www.dispatch.com/live/conten[…]6JDCAUV.html

The earliest mention I can find in the Dispatch of Zach’s name is an Oct. 2 article, which covered the release of his identity at the hearing; the Mount Vernon News covered this on Oct. 3. I don’t see any later Dispatch articles showing pictures of his arm, but of course I’m only looking at the online edition; maybe there was something else in the paper copy? I’m not sure the Mount Vernon News has pictures in its online articles at all.

RBH said: That June 20, 2008, newspaper picture is the exact image that Ben Nielson testified he saw … And, as noted, Zachary was not publicly identified until October 4, 2008, nearly four months later.

Just because Zachary was not yet publicly identified doesn’t mean that some people didn’t already know he was the one involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of his peers at school knew well before 10/4.

Just because Zachary was not yet publicly identified doesn’t mean that some people didn’t already know he was the one involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of his peers at school knew well before 10/4.

Since the family had feared community retribution, and had kept his identity private precisely so that his classmates and other people around town wouldn’t know, I doubt he was going around telling many people. They seem to have been successful in concealing his identity until that hearing.

I’m not sure. Narcisco and I had slightly different acoustics yesterday, and he may have been able to hear some stuff I couldn’t. Plus he’s younger than I am and hasn’t the high-frequency hearing loss I’ve acquired listening to over 30 years of sirens in fire trucks. :) So he may well be right. The witnesses face away from the gallery and it’s sometimes damn near impossible to hear things.

Anton Mates said:

According to the Dispatch, Ben and his father claimed to have seen the named photo last spring! Is that an error on the reporter’s part?

http://www.dispatch.com/live/conten[…]6JDCAUV.html

The earliest mention I can find in the Dispatch of Zach’s name is an Oct. 2 article, which covered the release of his identity at the hearing; the Mount Vernon News covered this on Oct. 3. I don’t see any later Dispatch articles showing pictures of his arm, but of course I’m only looking at the online edition; maybe there was something else in the paper copy? I’m not sure the Mount Vernon News has pictures in its online articles at all.

e-dogg said: Just because Zachary was not yet publicly identified doesn’t mean that some people didn’t already know he was the one involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of his peers at school knew well before 10/4.

According to Richard’s description, it sounds like Ben testified that the article he saw specified to whom the arm belonged.

What’s amazing to me is how long this is dragging out. Hannibal probably crossed the mountains with his elephants in less time.

If only war crimes received even a snippet of the time associated with this hearing.…

Enjoy.

I am just going to say this:

This is entirely to impugn Zach and his family’s testimony - paint them as liars.

If that’s how they want to play it, then the obvious rejoinder is to prove the kid is being coached to LIE at the hearing. And the more evidence you can pile up, the less the creos and their lawyer can make this a he said/he said.

So that’s why all the photo stuff matters. Because Freshwater and crew are playing hardball indeed.

I am a little surprised that Zach would be favoring his arm considering how most other kids fared. It might be a slip or a different angle or psychological, even. That is part of why the Freshwater team is probably so into the impugn testimony mode. They think Zach is either faking or a wuss, basically.

The same commonsense objections rise up when someone claims they said “that’s not Zach’s arm!” by the way. If Freshwater et al. were surprised Zach would make a big deal of the arc gadget pinking, I totally don’t believe that “That’s not Zach’s arm!” BS. What kid says that? Only one pre-coached to say things like that - it’s completely unnatural. If the dad was hinting around “so, is that what you saw? Was that mark that big and red?” and the kid says no, then it’s not what he’s saying now. It was elicited, not spontaneous.

This is entirely to impugn Zach and his family’s testimony - paint them as liars.

And how would that even work? I mean, there is a picture with a nasty burn. So, what, the Dennises abducted a hapless stranger, branded their arm and photographed it–but forgot to brand it on the right spot, of course–then sent that picture off to the media?

Has Freshwater’s lawyer called any witness yet whose testimony hasn’t made him look even worse?

If the newspaper is in black and white how can someone really tell?

I think the basic argument, that this is an attempt to paint the legitimacy and veracity of the burn pictures and testimony. Without going back through earlier days, didn’t a number of the witnesses for the defense claim that the coil was touched (not touched to people), or that it was a small “X” not a large cross, etc. I think what they’re trying to do is cloud the issue of the burn, make it appear that the family lied about it, perhaps faked it, muddy the water, get as many stories about the incident out there as possible and then push one of their versions as the “true” one. Also, if they can make this look like a set-up and/or a witch hunt, like the family and the school were looking for a scapegoat, a victim, or for one reason or another looking for an excuse to get rid of Freshwater (religious persecution perhaps?) then they might think they could win.

I don’t think these tactics will work. They’re very weak, the testimony for the defense has been contradictory and, quite often, weak or even damaging. On the district’s side, their only real fault is that they didn’t do something sooner, discipline him, implement more corrective action, etc. This really hinges on the fact that the previous administrator agreed with Freshwater, as evidence suggests knew about his activities, and not only allowed them, but apparently protected him. That one might actually get some traction, which is why damaging the injury to students charge might prove to be critical. IMO it’s a two part strategy.

1) Convince the court that Freshwater didn’t know that his religious activities weren’t allowed and imply that the administration knew about his activities and condoned them. Most states have guidelines that require schools to take corrective actions to improve teacher performance before they fire them. If he can get that argument to take hold, many of the charges against him become questionable.

2) Convince the court that the injury to Zach was blown out of proportion or outright fraudulent.

Getting both of those to stick will be difficult, but if he does the court could (though unlikely) rule that the firing was unjustified because they didn’t follow proper performance improvement guidelines. Again, let me make it clear, I don’t agree with any of these arguments, and doubt the court will either, but I think that’s what he’s trying to do.

dogmeatib said:

I think the basic argument, that this is an attempt to paint the legitimacy and veracity of the burn pictures and testimony…

Dogmeatib, while I agree with pretty much all of your conclusions, do you mean “…taint the legitimacy…”?

GvlGeologist, FCD said:

dogmeatib said:

I think the basic argument, that this is an attempt to paint the legitimacy and veracity of the burn pictures and testimony…

Dogmeatib, while I agree with pretty much all of your conclusions, do you mean “…taint the legitimacy…”?

*chuckle* Yes, that’s what happens when you change your mind in mid comment. Started out saying, “paint a picture,” changed my mind to go with “taint the legitimacy” finished up with “DOH.” Thanks.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on March 26, 2009 8:10 PM.

End Run to Certify Institute for Creation Research in Texas was the previous entry in this blog.

Freshwater Hearing: Whose Arm? Some Contradictions. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter