Special Report: Columbia doctor claims probable cause statement allegations against her are false

It insinuates she failed to report abuse

Columbia doctor refutes probable cause statement

COLUMBIA, Mo. - In July, 3-month-old Kyler Buxton died from non-accidental injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome. 

His father, Christopher Buxton, was charged in Moniteau County with second-degree murder for his death.

But within the probable cause statement a Highway Patrol corporal wrote, there's also another allegation: that Columbia pediatrician Laura Weidt failed to report abuse three weeks before Kyler Buxton died.

He indicated Dr. Weidt failed to do her job as a mandated reporter on July 6. He wrote that Weidt told Kyler's mother Mary Buxton not to go to the emergency room after she found a bruise on the infants back because it would "trigger an investigation".

Weidt admits she did tell Mary Buxton not to go to the emergency room, but it was because Weidt was going to be in clinic already that morning and would know the best way to treat Kyler, who had a lysosomal storage disease called Pompe disease.

He was diagnosed within a week of his birth. According to Dr. Weidt, the disease was late onset, which meant there shouldn't have been serious symptoms until he was in his teens.

"It's a disease that can cause weakness and it leads to organ and respiratory failure over time," she said.

According to Weidt, and text messages between the two women, Kyler was a colicky baby who had trouble gaining weight and was experiencing much discomfort, including a time on July 12 when he had symptoms of "projectile vomiting".

"I'd rather him see me, who's been seeing him then go to some other doctor in the emergency room, who doesn't know his history or anything like that."

Weidt admits she still didn't know much about the disease on July 6. So abuse crossed her mind, but so did countless other things that could be associated with Kyler's condition.

"Pediatricians are mandated reporters and I would report anything I ever suspected," she said. "I worked him up for a reason.

Between July 6 and July 12, Kyler had seen half a dozen specialists. Radiologists did ultrasounds of his stomach and back. Lab work was done to look for internal bleeding, injury or inflammation.

In the end, the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him as a result of the bruise and concluded that it wasn't suspicious.

"I worked him up, I talked to physicians and with mom being an EMT, a very reliable source, we came up with the conclusion that nothing more needed to be done," said Weidt.

Weidt said the probable cause statement never mentions Kyler's disease.

"I'm not sure they understood the breadth of this child and the case," she said. "Not the abuse case, but my case of a fussy infant with Pompe's disease."

But the corporal also referenced a text message conversation that happened between Buxton and Weidt. His interpretation was that it happened on July 6 and Weidt references the bruise when she saw a picture, saying "something had to have happened" and "people lose their temper."

According to Weidt, that conversation did happen. But it didn't happen on July 6 and it was not about the bruise. Between July 6 and July 29, the two had multiple conversations about Kyler. But Weidt says the conversation in question happened after Kyler was in the emergency room.

"I can understand where you come from July 29," she said. "But on July 6 I worked that kid up hard core to make sure there was nothing going on that I wasn't understanding and making sure that the child saw who he needed to see."

Weidt said the last day she saw Kyler in person was July 14 and she was on vacation when she received phone calls and text messages from Mary Buxton about Kyler's non-accidental and serious injuries.

That's when Weidt says she questioned Buxton and used the words mentioned in the probable cause statement.

"I was trying to get her to be open to the possibility that somebody she knows very well, which is more often than not who would abuse the child, even her husband," she said. "I said 'you need to think about it' and that's what that little string of texts was about, but that occurred on July 28 and 29."

Highway Patrol sent a written statement to ABC17 News Wednesday afternoon. In it, Highway Patrol Capt. John Hotz said he couldn't comment on an open investigation or anything associated with probable cause statements.

"The Highway Patrol takes any investigation extremely seriously," he said. "Particularly one involving the death of a child.
Moniteau County Prosecutor Shayne Healea told ABC17 News Wednesday afternoon that he spoke with Weidt's attorney about her concerns and, as a result, had a conversation with Highway Patrol. He said he could not give specifics of the conversation.

According to state law, prosecutors are not allowed to charge someone solely based on what's included in a probable cause statement that isn't about them.

Since Weidt was not the target of this investigation, 17-year prosecutor Bill Tackett said the Highway Patrol's allegations will most likely be ignored by prosecutors and if anything were to be done, a second investigation would need to take place.

"The recommendation here is for a certain crime and built into the probable cause statement is this kind of afterthought, this ancillary allegation that does not have footing as I understand it, within the probable cause statement to support it," he said. "There would have to be further investigation on that if that were going to be pursued."

Weidt said she understands the Highway Patrol's goal of finding the person responsible for Kyler's death, but she feels that her professional reputation got trampled on in the process.  

My goal in a nutshell is just to get the truth about how things occurred in the right timing and the right context because the PC statement doesn't do that," she said. "I feel that I did appropriate care for Kyler. I feel as though the PC statement construed that in a different way and made it sound like I should have done something differently than I did."

Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight told ABC17 News he did not have a warrant or probable cause statement for Weidt, but said if he gets one he'll need to appoint a special prosecutor to that case because he has a conflict of interest in his office.

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