Peter Draper Testifies on Day Four - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Peter Draper Testifies on Day Four

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The last state witness in the Peter Draper child abuse trial took the stand Thursday morning. She brought allegations saying that repeated trauma through blunt-force, twisting, or bending in the same area, would have caused the injuries seen on the child.

One area examined was the rib-cage of Joseph Rinehart Jr. The witness who served as a child abuse pediatrician says though damage was done, there was no sign of life-threatening injuries from those fractures.

Two witnesses from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also took the stand. Referring to the children sleeping in a pantry-sized closet, she reported she had not seen that during her visit. Otherwise, there were no safety concerns. She also mentioned that the mother, Laura Rinehart, said that it was the best arrangement they could have.  She further stated that if she had seen children-bedding in a closet, it would have caused a concern.

Draper disputed the claim regarding the beds in the closet saying it was temporary in order to keep the family in one room for heating purposes.

The other representative from DHHS said he was called to the home after a doctor reported allegations of physical abuse on another child living in the home, Zachariah Rinehart. When visiting the home, he noticed that Zachariah went into a bit of rage where he stood up, yelled, and then proceeded to run head-first into a wall.  He says he never seen anything like it. Peter Draper commented on this later in the trial saying Joseph probably picked up those tendencies from Zachariah.

Leaving the home, the DHHS worker said he had some concern of the children mainly due to the behaviors they displayed. He too had no recollection of a bed in a closet, and both DHHS workers reported they left the case listed as unfounded.  However during cross-examination, they mentioned that physical abuse can show up after listing a case as unfounded.

The last to take the stand was Peter Draper.  He wished to testify in his own defense saying his typical punishment for Joseph was taking a toy away, or a swat on the diaper. He further specified that he only held Joseph down when he was having a temper-tantrum that Laura did not want to deal with.

Draper did acknowledge that he loves his grandchildren, and never asked them to stand in timeout for extended periods of time like the alleged 45 minutes brought against him.

Testimony ended Thursday with tears from Draper's face as he retold his feelings of finding out that 2-year-old Joseph Rinehart Jr. had died.

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