A forensic pathologist testified Thursday in a lawsuit against McDonald's that 18-year-old Denton Ward died from assault injuries he suffered at the fast-food restaurant prior to being involved in a car accident. 

Ward's parents, along with the parents of Lauren Bailey Crisp, 19, have sued McDonald's on claims the corporation's negligence resulted in their children's deaths in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2012. 

The two were in Ward's 4Runner on the way to the hospital after leaving McDonald's off of University Drive when the driver of the vehicle -- Samantha Bean, 20 -- ran a red light at Holleman Drive and collided with another vehicle. 

Bean and a fourth passenger in the vehicle -- Tanner Giesen, 20 -- survived the wreck. 

Dr. Joseph Burton, a forensic pathologist whose resume spans more than 30 pages, testified as an expert for the plaintiffs and said there's no question Crisp was killed in the car accident.

But based on his analysis, Burton said, Ward died from a fatal skull fracture he suffered when he and Giesen were assaulted by a group of men at the McDonald's. 

Had it not been for the assault, Bean would not have been driving Ward's vehicle in an attempt to get to the hospital, which is what led to the accident that killed Crisp, Burton said. 

Plaintiff attorneys argue McDonald's had a responsibility to protect customers from unreasonable or foreseeable harm and insist the assault of Ward and Giesen was exactly that. 

Throughout the week, jurors have watched several video depositions of College Station police officers who said prior to the accident they were regularly responding to the McDonald's between 2 and 4 a.m. on the weekends, where hundreds of people would be gathered after having left the bars. 

Jurors were presented on Tuesday with a list of more than 20 police incident reports of assaults, fights or disorderly conduct from March 2011 to January 2012 between 2 and 4 a.m. on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

Eddie Sosa, a McDonald's regional security manager, said in a video deposition played on Thursday that he was aware of the police reports and numerous assaults prior to February 2012, when Ward and Crisp died, but didn't see a need for implementing safety measures such as hiring security. 

The jury also heard from one of the 10 or so men involved in the beating of Ward and Giesen at the McDonald's. 

Marcus Jamal Jones, or "Plucky," testified he heard Giesen use a racial slur, at which point he approached and punched Giesen in the face, knocking him to the ground. 

The 22-year-old Bryan man said Ward then tackled him before Jones' friends pulled him out of the fight as Ward was assaulted by others. 

Jones -- who testified he was recently hired by Mid-South Baking Company where McDonald's buns are made -- pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor assault for the McDonald's incident and served a 90-day jail sentence.

During a video deposition shown to jurors, Giesen denied ever saying anything to Jones or any of the men standing around him at McDonald's, and said he heard one of them say to him and Ward, "You're in the wrong neck of the woods, cowboys," shortly before receiving a blow to the face that knocked him unconscious.  

Several witnesses to the incident have said Ward appeared to be attempting to break up the fighting and was not an instigator. 

McDonald's attorneys contend the deaths of Crisp and Ward occurred because of decisions made by individuals and not because of neglect on the part of their clients. 

In cross-examination of Burton, McDonald's lawyers pointed out that based on some witness statements, Ward was able to talk and walk after the assault, which would have been impossible had he received his fatal injury during the assault.  

Testimony from McDonald's expert witnesses next week is expected to contradict what experts testifying for the plaintiffs concluded this week. 

Chris Hamilton, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said he anticipates resting the families' case on Friday after a video deposition from Samantha Bean and testimony from the parents of Ward and Crisp. 

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(7) comments

MizAmberLea

Take the wreck out of it. Ward would have still died due to the injuries that he received that night at McDonald's. Period. End of story.
No greed. That is the proven fact.
Now put the wreck back into it - Bean was racing to the hospital to save a friend's life. She was unfamiliar with the town. She ran a red light. None of which would have happened if her companions were not just attacked.
This was a vicious hate crime and what really sucks is a 90 day sentence.

THX1138

SICKENING how The Eagle has ignored this as a HATE CRIME. Imagine if the races were reversed.

commonsense123

STUPIDITY written all over this lawsuit. Greed Greed Greed of people.. very sad society has come to this.

Sherman

What a terribly written story. A shame newspapers have given up.

Little birdie

I wonder if the plaintiff loses the case....will they then go file a lawsuit against the people that provided their under age kids alcohol... Because buzzed driving is still drunk driving, and will effect your driving, like running a red light.... That's been proven

HRKB

There should have been felony hate crime charges brought against the kids who beat Denton to death! This McDonalds has a history of violence and 911 calls. You should be able to stop there and go to the restroom without being beat to death! It is irresponsible of McDonalds for NOT providing security when they know how much violence happens at this location. MCC5, what does drunk driving have to do with being beat to death? The kids were racing out of there because their lives were at risk! It is sad you are so callous!

MCC5

Such a sad story, but I don't see any fault from McDonald's. This is why it is against the law to drive drunk - people die.

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