An appeal brief by an attorney for Shawna L. Gatto argues there was insufficient evidence to convict Gatto of the 2017 murder of 4-year-old Kendall Chick in Wiscasset.
The appeal also says the court erred when it did not allow cross-examination regarding the credibility of Maine’s chief medical examiner, who performed Chick’s autopsy and testified at Gatto’s trial.
Gatto is serving a 50-year sentence at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.
Camden-based defense attorney Jeremy Pratt submitted the appeal brief to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The brief is dated Dec. 31 and lists two grounds for appeal.
The first ground for appeal argues there was insufficient evidence to convict or even that Gatto caused any injuries to Chick, including the fatal injury.
“No evidence on the record can support a finding that Ms. Gatto inflicted any of the wounds sustained by Kendall,” Pratt said in the argument portion of the brief.
“The trial court is essentially basing its verdict on the fact that Ms. Gatto was alone with Kendall most of the day and did not seek help for her injuries,” Pratt said. “However, the record established that Stephen Hood was in the home alone with Kendall as well.”
Chick lived with her grandfather, Hood, and Gatto, her primary caregiver and Hood’s fiancee, at 19 Crickets Lane in Wiscasset. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services had placed her in the home.
Hood has multiple convictions for violent crimes and testified during the trial that he once struck Chick with a belt three times.
“The record established that Mr. Hood disciplined the kids more than he initially cared to admit,” Pratt wrote.
The second basis for appeal argues that the court did not allow cross-examination about Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum’s past.
Flomenbaum was fired from his job as Massachusetts’ chief medical examiner in 2007 after his office lost a body, according to the Bangor Daily News.
Pratt said the court’s “limitation” of this line of questioning “was an abuse of its discretion.”
“Attention to detail, as demonstrated in Dr. Flomenbaum’s administrative deficiencies in Massachusetts, should be a clear concern with his testimony,” Pratt wrote.
The brief states that the court took note of the circumstances behind Flomenbaum’s termination in Massachusetts and reviewed court decisions related to his prior employment.
According to Pratt, Gatto should have been able to inquire about Flomenbaum’s termination because it is relevant to his credentials as an expert witness for the state.
Chick died Dec. 8, 2017 of a blunt-force injury to the abdomen that caused internal injuries, according to Flomenbaum’s findings. She had also suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and numerous other injuries.
Gatto was found guilty of depraved indifference murder April 30, 2019 by Superior Court Justice William R. Stokes, who presided over her bench trial. She was sentenced June 25, 2019.
The state must turn in its appeal brief by Feb. 20.