Johnny Byrkett facing charges in child's death

Expert witness: Cruz Ethan Combs suffered 'high-energy injuries'


A child abuse specialist testified that 1-year-old Cruz Ethan Combs suffered "severe abusive head injuries" on June 4, 2009, leading to his eventual hospitalization and subsequent removal from life support.

Dr. James Lukefahr said the child's injuries were "not compatible with minor injuries, such as falling off a couch or something like that. ... They are much more like high-energy-type of injuries."

He was testifying in the trial of Johnny Ray Byrkett, 29, the live-in boyfriend of the boy's mother.

Byrkett told police that he was caring for the child at a Windcrest apartment he shared with the woman and her children.

Byrkett said he awakened from a mid-morning nap and found the child unresponsive and barely breathing.

He was rushed to the hospital and immediately place on life support.

"It takes a lot of force to cause those injuries and the force can be either a blunt injury, like, in other words, a blow to the head," Lukefahr said. "Or the other way these things happen is if the head is shaken or rotated violently."

The child died four days later when he was removed from life support.

Byrkett was charged with injury to a child/serious bodily injury. If convicted, he is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Testimony is expected to continue on Monday in Judge Melisa Skinner's 290th District Court.

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