AUBURN – The trial of a Lisbon woman accused of shaking her adopted son to death is scheduled to begin Tuesday and is expected to last up to two and a half weeks.

Sarah Allen was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of her 22-month-old son, Nathaniel, in February 2003.

Allen has denied the charge, insisting all along that she never abused her son. State prosecutors will argue that the evidence shows otherwise.

The state’s medical examiner is expected to testify that the cause of the boy’s death was acute craniocervical trauma, and that the autopsy revealed three common signs of shaken-baby syndrome: bleeding around the retina, bleeding around the brain and swelling of the brain.

Jury selection for the trial will begin Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese and defense attorney Verne Paradie are expected to call a total of 35 to 45 witnesses, including several doctors. The lawyers could give their opening statements Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, depending on how long it takes to pick 12 jurors and two alternates.

Picking juries in cases involving allegations of child abuse can be difficult due to the emotions involved. That was evident earlier this month when the court was unable to pick 14 impartial jurors for the state’s case against Allen’s husband.

Jeremy Allen was charged with assault for allegedly hitting Nathaniel with a spatula days before the boy died.

As a result of the problems with picking a jury for the case, his trial was postponed to June 28.

The Allens adopted Nathaniel from Guatemala in April 2002. The adoption was arranged through a private, out-of-state agency.

On Feb. 14, while Jeremey Allen was away on a business trip, Sarah Allen called police to report that Nathaniel was not breathing. The boy was rushed to Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick, then to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where doctors determined that he was brain dead and would never live without life support.

The Allens decided to disconnect the boy from life-support machines on Feb. 15 and to donate his organs. Two weeks later, Sarah Allen was arrested at their home on Lincoln Street.

The state is planning to call emergency medical technicians, hospital personnel and police officers to testify about statements Allen is said to have made at her house and at the hospital.

According to court documents, she told investigators that Nathaniel fell in the bathtub two or three times and hit his head. She also told them that after the bath, Nathaniel hit his head on the floor while she was changing his diaper. Then she described brushing up against Nathaniel in the bedroom and accidentally knocking him to the floor where he hit his head and became unconscious.

The defense lawyer plans to call medical experts who will testify that the boy’s injuries are consistent with Sarah Allen’s explanation of what happened.

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