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Doctor who examined Brook Stagles: "I was looking at a corpse"

An emergency room doctor who tried to save the life of Brook Stagles took the stand Tuesday morning in the murder trial of Erica Bell. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - An emergency room doctor who tried to save the life of Brook Stagles took the stand Tuesday morning in the murder trial of Erica Bell.

Stagles was three years old when she was beaten to death last November. Prosecutors say she died of severe child abuse on November 14, one day after being taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Bell, 24, is charged with murder and manslaughter in her death. She waived her right to a jury trial last week.

Michael Stagles - Brook's father and Bell's boyfriend - is charged with criminally negligent homicide in his daughter's death.

Dr. Kevin O'Gara, a pediatric emergency room doctor at Rochester General Hospital, testified that when Brook was brought into the emergency room that day in November, he was not looking at a three-year-old girl; he was looking at a corpse.

Dr. O'Gara said Brook was covered head to toe in bruises and had no pulse when her father, Michael Stagles, brought her to the hospital. It took his team nearly five attempts to revive her before she regained a weak pulse.

"I watched them during the day and that evening," said John Geer, Brook's grandfather. "Ashlee (Brook's biological mother) and I were there all night long and watched three, four five doctors work on her and just try to keep her alive."

Prosecutors said Bell refused to take Brook to the hospital, saying that Brook was not brought into the emergency room until Bell was already in custody for drug-related charges.

Defense attorneys, however, claim Bell and Brook were victims of domestic violence and that Bell was trying to protect herself from her abuser: Michael Stagles.

Images of Brook were shown to the courtroom, which brought out many emotions. Tears and sobs from family and friends could be heard and seen throughout the courtroom.

Many more difficult images are expected to be shown as the bench trial continues. The trial is expected to wrap up next week.

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