Deadlocked Graw Jury To Return Today

Judge Urges New Effort In Negligent Death Trial

October 31, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

A deadlocked jury will return this morning in what may be a final attempt to decide the fate of a Davidsonville doctor accused of negligence in the death of a 9-year-old girl four years ago.

After nearly11 hours of deliberations over two days, the seven women and five men announced they could not reach a verdict.

But Circuit Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. told the jurors they mustkeep trying.

"I know how taxing it's been on you," the judge saidafter one juror told him discussions were "getting testy."

The jurors sent a note to the judge that indicated a split, but the actual numbers were not revealed publicly.

The note will be put in the public file after a verdict or a mistrial is declared.

Jurors are trying to decide if Dr. Robert G. Graw Jr. was negligent in his care ofCatherine "Katie" Gillespie, who died eight hours after arriving at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Nov. 2, 1987.

The girl, who lived in Severn, was diagnosed with a blood disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. The malady is characterized by an abnormally small number of platelets, the part of the blood responsible for clotting.

Katie's parents say Graw, a specialist in pediatric hematology, failed to hospitalize the girl or take other reasonable steps that could have prevented her death.

The parents also accuse Graw of failing to advise them to watch for signs of a headache, which suggests the onset of a hemorrhage.

The girl died of a brain hemorrhage the day after complaining of a headache.

But Graw's attorneys argue the the girl's bleeding wasn't severe enough on the two days that he saw her to warrant hospitalization.

And since a hospital wasn't necessary, Graw took appropriate action in sending the girl home and prescribing steroids, his attorneys said.

Yesterday, one of Graw's lawyers, Kurt Karsten, argued that the judge should declare a mistrial. "I think there are at least several members of the jury who will not budge and will not compromise," he said.

"The appropriate thing is to declare a mistrial."

But the family's attorney, Gary I. Strausberg, said the jury should continue their deliberations.

"It is clear that a majority of jurors are for the (family)," he said.

"You should allow the jury to come back and start fresh and see if the small number of holdouts would be willing to change their minds."

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