Prosecutor Unable To Get Murder Conviction In Yucca Valley Child’s 2018 Death

Arthur Thomas Davies, who has been in continuous custody since the February 2018 death of 17-month-old Parker Lee Schumacher, was acquitted of first-degree murder charges after a trial in which Deputy District Attorney Charles Tsuei consistently and repeatedly asserted Davies had deliberately killed the child.
The jury split on the alternate charges that were at play in the trial presided over by Judge Christopher Pallone, those being a 10-to-2 finding in favor of second-degree murder and an identical 10-to-2 vote determination of a fatal assault on a juvenile.
Judge Pallone declared the now-concluded proceedings to have been a mistrial and set a retrial for October 16.
Young Schumacher died in February 2018 after being severely injured inside a trailer in Yucca Valley, where he was living with his mother, Karissa Caccavari, and Davies.
In Tsuei’s narrative, Davies cruelly and deliberately slammed the back of the child’s head against a hard surface, most likely the top of a counter. The prosecutor presented testimony and contestable evidence to suggest that Davies resented the child because his presence, first in the home where Caccavari previously lived with Parker’s father, Eric Schumacher, and then later in a trailer in Yucca Valley, interfered and interrupted his relationship with Caccavari .
Davies met Caccavari in December 2017. After Caccavari and her child relocated from Joshua Tree to a trailer in Yucca Valley in January 2018, Davies moved in with them. Text messages presented during the course of the trial demonstrated that Davies was disapproving of Parker’s behavior and his mother’s indulgence of the child, who was not yet a year-and-a-half old. Disagreements between Davies and Caccavari, essentially over the child, including Davies’ contention that Parker was “manipulating” his mother, led to Caccavari and Davies parting as a couple, with Davies moving out of the trailer.
Davies, however, was involved in a singular vehicular mishap on the evening/early morning of February 7/February 8, 2018. Instead of Davies moving back to his parents house as he had been purposed to do, he resumed residing in the trailer, as Caccavari, seemingly concerned about Davies after the accident, fatefully consented to him returning.
While Caccavari was not at the trailer on February 10 and Davies was there alone with the child, Parker suffered severe head trauma. Davies contacted Caccavari to inform her of the child’s injury and after Caccavari returned, the child was taken by ambulance to the Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree and then flown to Loma Linda University Medical Center. There, physicians determined that the child had multiple injuries, including compound fractures to the back of his skull, extensive bleeding in the brain, swelling on one side of the brain and hemorrhaging in both eyes.
The child, who was having difficulty breathing, was placed on a ventilator. He died on February 11, 2018.
The medical professionals at Loma Linda contacted authorities, believing that the child’s injuries were not from a simple fall.
An autopsy determined that Parker had a previous fracture to his skull. It is surmised that this occurred on January 21, when the child fell off a couch and was observed vomiting. Caccavari took him to the Hi-Desert Medical Center after that incident but medical staff there did not do a head or brain scan at that time because it was determined the child had the flu, which was treated.
There was conflicting expert testimony about the extent and nature of the child’s injuries at trial. The plausibility/implausibility of that testimony appears to have created a circumstance which resulted in lingering doubt that resulted in an acquittal on the first degree murder charge and made it impossible for the jury to reach a consensus on the remaining charges.
Tsuei in making his case relied heavily upon the testimony of Dr. Melissa Egge, a forensic pediatrician. Egge contradicted and sought to dismiss the accuracy of Davies’ account that Schumacher was injured when he launched himself from Davies’ arms while the adult was holding him, hitting his head on the trailer’s linoleum floor.
Defense attorney Zulu Ali ridiculed Egge’s contention that a baby or toddler could fall from the height of a two-story window on its head and not be injured as Parker was injured.
Ali seriously wounded Egge’s credibility as well by attempting to lead the jury to the conclusion that she had committed perjury when she claimed to have done extensive examination of child injuries relating to a child falling out of an adult’s grasp.
For his part, Tsuei sought to impeach Ali’s expert witness, Dr. Marvin Petruszka. The prosecutor first implied and then outright stated that Petruszka’s testimony was purchased for the price of $7,500. Petruszka was incompetent, Tsuei said, being unable to distinguish between the front and back of the child’s skull in photos and x-ray depictions of the injuries. Petruszka was so intellectually dishonest, Tsuei asserted, that he avoided entirely moving to the most logical scientific conclusions about what had caused Schumacher’s death.
The case against Davies was reminiscent of a now-four-decade old case, perhaps the most infamous of child abuse death cases out of San Bernardino County, that one brought against Bryan Mincey, who was accused and convicted of the beating death of five-year-old James Brown Jr in the unincorporated county area of Fontana in December 1983. James Brown Jr was the son of Mincey’s live-in girlfriend, Sandra Brown. Then-Prosecutor Raymond W. Haight III convinced a San Bernardino jury in 1985 that Mincey killed the child because he resented the child’s interference with his relationship with Sandra Brown. Another child who was the product of the relationship between James Brown Sr and Sandra Brown, Wendy, survived the ordeal with Mincey.
Ali argued that there was no testimony or evidence to indicate Davies was abusive and that, indeed, the opposite was the case, in that Davies, who was 34 at the time of Schumacher’s death, had a previous relationship with a woman with children from a previous relationship and that Davies had not been abusive toward those children.
Ali successfully convinced all members of the jury that Davies had not premeditated the killing of young Schumacher. He also convinced two of the members of the jury that Davies had neither willfully nor negligently injured Parker.
Tsuei at one point engaged in a round of hyperbole he might have later regretted when he told the jury that Ali was arguing that Parker Schumacher had killed himself. Ali pointedly contested that when Judge Pallone acceded to a request by the still-deliberating jury to allow the prosecutor and defense attorney to restate and embellish on their closing arguments.
Davies, who has been in custody for more than six-and-a-half years, remains incarcerated.
Tsuei, who has continuously committed to the scenario of deliberate murder of the child by Davies, gave indication he will seek second-degree murder and assault of a minor convictions against the defendant, arguing, essentially, that there was no premeditation on Davies’ part but that he killed Parker in a momentary fit of anger, resentment and desperation.
-Mark Gutglueck

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