Boy was alive when burned
A state medical examiner testified Monday that 6-year-old Mason Scott was alive at least briefly as he was being burned in a fire that killed him and destroyed his bedroom Aug. 16.
His mother, Christie Michelle Scott, who is charged with capital murder, is accused of starting the fire.
Dr. Emily Ward, who performed the autopsy on Mason's body, testified he died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns.
During questioning by Assistant Franklin County District Attorney Doug Evans, Ward testified that soot found in the child's throat and lungs during the autopsy indicates he was alive as the fire began.
She could not say how long the child might have lived as his body was being burned.
She said much of the child's skin was charred during the fire.
"We don't think he was alive the whole time the burning was going on," Ward said "But we don't know at what point the death occurred."
Christie Scott wept when Ward testified the youth could have been alive as he was being burned.
Evans displayed three photographs for jurors that Ward made of the child's badly burned body before the autopsy.
Scott buried her face in her hands and looked away from the monitor screen as the photographs were displayed.
Jurors showed no visible emotion as they viewed the photographs. Some appeared to be taking notes during Ward's testimony.
Ward testified the autopsy revealed Mason Scott had high levels of carbon monoxide in his blood.
In his opening statement June 11, defense attorney Robert Tuten told jurors he expects the evidence will show the high levels of carbon monoxide are a result of fire smoldering for an extended period before being discovered. He told jurors evidence will show the youth breathed smoke from the fire for a prolonged period.
Scott told investigators when she awoke to discover the pre-dawn fire, she attempted to rescue her son, but was turned back by intense smoke and heat. Scott told investigators she and her then-4-year-old son, Noah, escaped through a window.
Tuten contends the fire was accidental. Prosecutors say the fire began when Scott ignited a bed belonging to her younger son, who shared a bedroom with Mason. Scott told investigators that Noah slept in her room the night of the fire.
Mason Scott's body was found on the floor of his bedroom.
During Monday's questioning by Evans, Ward said high carbon monoxide levels are not unusual in children who die in a fire. She said children have smaller lungs and more rapid heartbeats than adults, which can elevate carbon monoxide levels when they die in a fire.
Tuten asked Ward two questions during his cross examination: If someone with a carboxyhemoglobin level (the combination of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin blood) of 40 percent in their blood could survive with medical attention; and if someone with a carbon monoxide level of 90 percent would likely die. She answered yes to both questions.
Ward had testified earlier that Mason Scott's carboxyhemoglobin level was more than 90 percent.
Scott is being held in the Franklin Jail without bond. If convicted of capital murder, she could be sentenced to death.http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090623/ARTICLES/906235034/0/znyt02