Doctor claims disease cost David her vision


Herald Writer

A woman who has been described in court as a victim of chronic abuse most likely lost her eyesight to disease, not some sort of intentional violence, a doctor called as a witness on behalf of the woman’s husband testified Wednesday.

Dr. Douglas Macleod, medical director of St. Mark’s Eye Institute in Tacoma, told a Snohomish County jury that medical records he’d reviewed show Linda David, 52, suffers from cataracts and glaucoma, and there is nothing about her eyes to indicate that she was intentionally harmed by anyone.

In particular, Macleod said hemorrhages found in Linda David’s eyes in 1997 were related to her eye disease, not evidence that she’d been recently punched. That opinion contrasted sharply with those of doctors called by prosecutors, who had previously said the eye hemorrhages were consistent with damage caused by battering.

Linda David’s husband, Victor David, 60, of Marysville went on trial Sept. 21, charged with second-degree assault. Prosecutors allege he hid his wife away on the filthy sailboat they called home, battering her for years at waterfront locations from Tacoma to Everett.

Linda David was removed from the boat in 1997 after a state social worker checked on her welfare and found her emaciated, barely able to move and covered with filth and scars. She now lives in a Lynnwood nursing home.

One of the region’s top neurologists previously told jurors that traumatic injuries to Linda David’s brain, not a progressive disease, put her in a wheelchair, slurred her speech and robbed her of her eyesight.

Macleod told jurors Wednesday that he examined Linda David’s medical records and determined her eye problems were "most probably not" caused by trauma.

The doctor did not examine Linda David in person and was not able to recognize her when shown photographs.

Deputy prosecutor Jo Vanderlee brought that point home forcefully when she called the doctor’s attention to a montage of photos that document the spider web of scars covering Linda David’s forehead, her flattened nose and distorted, "cauliflower" ears.

The exhibit has been on display in front of jurors almost continuously since trial opened nearly three weeks ago.

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