An inquest Friday will probe whether anyone is responsible for the death this summer of a 2-year-old North Charleston girl, the Charleston County Coroner’s Office said this morning.
Ginny Hughes died July 4 at Medical University Hospital. Experts have not yet ruled on the toddler’s manner of death.
A manner of death can be ruled as natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or undetermined.
According to a North Charleston Police Department report, the girl had been removed from her Brossy Circle home under suspicion of abuse in May, when she was hospitalized because of brain hemmorraging and seizures.
It’s unknown when the child was returned to her 25-year-old mother, Amanda Montague.
An incident report about the death stated that on July 2, paramedics were called to the home because Ginny was in full cardiac arrest. A live-in babysitter who was watching the toddler and two other children found her unresponsive.
Police officers noticed bruising on the girl’s arm and torso. The babysitter, 18-year-old Alicia Stepp, said the girl suffered a genetic defect and fell a lot when she attempted to walk because she was born without feet.
She died two days later of an “anoxic brain injury,” in which the oxygen flow to the brain is cut off.
The inquest, which will start at 9 a.m. in the Lonnie Hamilton III Public Services Building in North Charleston, is a relatively rare procedure, but Friday’s will be the second this year.
In early August, a jury found that the mauling death of Mount Pleasant toddler Ja’Marr Tiller was accidental.
Before this year, the most recent inquest came in December 2008 regarding a plane crash the year before. While the death was initially ruled accidental, the manner was changed to “undetermined.”
Friday’s proceedings will start with a six-member jury and one alternate being selected from a typical pool of residents summoned for duty. The potential jurors are not subjected to the trial process of voir dire, in which they are asked questions about possible biases before being accepted.
Coroner Rae Wooten will act as a judge while the jurors hear testimony.
Unlike in a criminal trial, the jurors and coroner can ask questions of the witnesses, but attorneys are not permitted to do so.
Inquests typically last most of the day, which ends with the jury’s finding.
The coroner will consider the finding only as a recommendation and can choose to disregard it.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.