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Day: November 14, 2011

Murder indictment issued in 4-year-old’s death

Of The Keizertimes

A Keizer man was indicted Monday on murder by abuse charges after his four-year-old stepson’s death.

Police last week arrested Gerardo Chavarria Pinzon and charged him with manslaughter. The Marion County Grand Jury issued its indictment Monday – two counts each of murder by abuse and first-degree criminal mistreatment.

An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17.

Authorities allege the man pushed the young boy with a plastic child carrier, causing him to fall down a flight of stairs, then played video games for more than an hour before seeking medical help despite injuries to the child’s head.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office stated Sebastian Iturbe, 4, died of blunt force trauma to the head. Dr. Larry Lewman stated the death was a homicide.

A statement Tuesday from Keizer Police stated the boy lived at Hawk’s Point Apartments at 1220 McGee Court NE in north Keizer with his mother, 27-year-old Erika Iturbe Colin, stepfather Gerardo Chavarria Pinzon and his 13-month old sister.

According to a probable cause statement from Keizer Police detectives, the suspect initially told authorities the child fell off a step leading to their apartment and hit his head. However, according to Det. Vaughn Edsall, the suspect later changed his story.

Police said the suspect had his hands full while returning to their basement apartment and asked Sebastian to carry something. Sebastian became angry and stopped at the top of a flight of stairs, Edsall wrote in his statement. The suspect then used the child carrier to push the boy, police said, causing him to fall down 17 stairs and land at the bottom clutching his head. His head struck several stairs as he fell, police said.

According to police, the suspect carried Sebastian inside and put him on a couch, then took him to bed, and went to play video games on his Playstation.

After about an hour and a half he found Sebastian breathing but unresponsive in his bed. The stepfather admitted the boy into Salem Hospital at about 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, with what the attending physician called life-threatening injuries. Doctors there performed emergency surgery, and subsequently sent Sebastian to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

He was pronounced dead at 9:45 p.m. Sunday, November 6.

We got the beat

Donna McCario, life enrichment director at Sherwood Park Nursing & Care Center, helps instruct Jolane Loughton, right, at a Senior Rhythms event taught by Mark Parker, center, and brother Brian. (KEIZERTIMES/Brian Rennick)

Of the Keizertimes

A local nursing home is experimenting with how a simple drumbeat can lift spirits of seniors.

Sherwood Park Nursing and Care Center invited a group called Senior Rhythms to come lead a drum circle of sorts with its patients. They also invited activity directors from other senior facilities to come take a look at the program for themselves.

It’s how brothers Brian and Mark Parker are using their talents and training – both are musicians, and Brian is also a licensed practical nurse – to stimulate senior citizens in facilities that, by their very nature, can invoke feelings of isolation.

“(Operators) try really hard to be friendly and get people to engage,” said Brian Parker. “This is a way to do it where (residents) get to, instead of just listening to something, actually engage in it.”

While many of the Sherwood Park residents are struggling with physical disabilities, he said the program shows the most potential with patients suffering from memory loss, particularly from Alzheimer’s disease. Basic rhythm is something that registers in any human brain, Parker said.

“The research is showing that incorporating music actually allows them to create new memories, which is kind of a unique concept with Alzheimer’s,” Parker said. “When you process music it’s a very complex thing – it uses a lot of different facets of the brain. The new memories basically tag along with the music and find new pathways in the brain, allowing them to form new memories.”

Often the mind continues to function, but the ability to communicate can go first, Parker said.

“So what happens over time is they tend to withdraw, not to communicate, so not only do they lose their short-term memory, but even things they can remember, they can no longer express,” he added.

Donna McCario, life enrichment director at Sherwood Park, learned of the program at an Oregon Healthcare Association convention. Purchasing the drums is a bit cost prohibitive, but she said the reaction from her patients was obvious.

“Even the people who can only use one hand, they could get a mallet and beat that drum,” McCario said. “One lady who is paralyzed wanted to put the tambourine under her neck – and she did it. I didn’t think she’d be into it at all, but she loved being a part of it.”

Another patient said her name. It seems like a small victory, but not when this particular woman hardly utters a peep, McCario said.

She said that it provides an outlet for residents regardless of the health reasons that put them there.

“It kind of takes your mind off things, plus the longer the pain level is decreased there’s less medication, which is always a good thing,” McCario said. “And it’s something everybody can succeed at – there’s no right way or wrong way to do it.”

“It’s all about what they sort of call being in the moment, giving them that little moment of joy,” Parker said. “With memory care there is no fix, there are no cures, they’re going to deteriorate and eventually die from the disease. But they can once again engage with people.”

Family members often become frustrated when visiting loved ones who don’t remember who they are. Parker said relatives can come visit during the drum sessions and see their faces light up again.

“When we come back, the residents actually remember us,” Parker added. “They don’t remember their family members, they don’t know what they had for lunch yesterday, or if they even had lunch. But they remember us.

“What it really is is as simple as clapping your hand or tapping your feet,” Parker said. “There’s actually a biological response down to the DNA level. And it’s a uniquely human thing.”