`They Intended That He Die' Brain Damage Inflicted On Polec Is Detailed

Posted: January 12, 1996

By the time Eddie Polec's accused killers were finished beating him, the back of his brain had swollen so much it cut off the flow of blood to his heart and lungs.

A brain specialist took the witness stand yesterday and described in clinical detail the severe damage inflicted on the Fox Chase youth's brain by his basball-bat-wielding assailants.

``They intended that he die,'' said prosecutor Joseph Casey outside the courtroom after several hours of the doctor's testimony. ``The brain itself, the severe trauma to it are the best evidence of that.''

Casey must prove the six defendants intended to kill Polec, 16, to get first-degree murder convictions and life sentences for all of them.

Defense attorneys for the youths on trial attacked the doctor's testimony, arguing that the evidence offered by Dr. Lucy Rorke could not show intent - what was going through the minds of the defendants.

As the slides of Polec's brain were projected, Polec's mother, Kathy, closed her eyes and laid her head on her husband John's shoulder. Her daughter, Christie, pressed against her other side.

``I'm glad they showed the pictures,'' Kathy Polec said later. ``The jury has to see that, and the families of the kids that did this have to see too.''

They did.

Across from the Polecs, defendant Nick Pinero's mother sat with her head low in her hands. Flanked by her daughters, she leaned heavily against one of them.

A. Charles Peruto Sr., Pinero's attorney, continued to lay the groundwork that his client had been drinking on the night of the beating, Nov. 11, 1994, and was not responsible for his actions. He repeatedly questioned Rorke about the extent that alcohol affects a person's judgment and behavior.

Rorke also testified that heavy damage to the left side of Polec's brain showed that the blows had been concentrated there. Casey contends that two of the defendants, Thomas Crook and Pinero, hit Polec on the left side of his head, as another defendant, Anthony Rienzi, held Polec up by his left shoulder.

In other testimony, William Oehler, began a series of testimony by teen-age witnesses. He said he had been part of a group of Fox Chase kids that harassed two Abington girls a week before Polec's murder, setting off a chain of events that led to the beating. He disputed defense contentions that Polec had been part of that Fox Chase group.

A second teen-ager, Dennis Cusack, pointed out defendant Bou Khathavong from the stand as one of four boys who confronted him on the night Polec was killed. Cusack said Khathavong had warned that a large crew from Abington would be coming to Fox Chase to fight later.

``He said, `There's no where to run, baby,' '' Cusack recalled.

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