VENICE, Fla. (Court TV) — Days after her attorney said that she wasn’t in court due to her deteriorating health, Maya Kowalski appeared in photos attending Halloween and Homecoming events.
Maya and her family are currently suing Johns Hopkins All Children’s Medical Center, where she was a patient beginning in 2015. Maya suffers from a chronic condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a neuropathic disease that causes her extreme pain, weakness and lesions. When Maya was admitted to the hospital, the doctors were concerned that the treatment she was receiving, high doses of the anesthetic ketamine, was actually evidence of medical child abuse. As a result, Maya was removed from her parents’ care and held in the hospital. Unable to see her daughter for 85 days, Maya’s mother, Beata Kowalski, took her own life. The family’s struggles were chronicled in the Netflix documentary, “Take Care of Maya.”
On Friday, Kowalski family attorney Gregory Anderson addressed the media outside of the courthouse, offering an explanation after Maya had been absent from the courtroom for several days. Her absence overlapped with the testimony of Dr. Sally Smith, the child abuse pediatrician assigned to investigate Maya’s case.
Speaking about the effects of the trial on Maya, Anderson said Friday, “It has been horrible. Maya has CRPS lesions reappearing. It’s not good.”
On Tuesday, attorneys for the defense petitioned Judge Carroll to be allowed to introduce new photos of Maya as evidence. The photos, shared by attorneys in court, show a scantily-clad Maya at a Halloween event and at homecoming. The photos appear to be screengrabs from the social media site Instagram.
In one photo, which appears to be for Halloween, Maya appears in a two-piece white belly-baring outfit. Maya is smiling with her arms around two other girls, who each wear wings. A second photo shows Maya wearing a short red dress in the back of what appears to be a limo.
Speaking for the defense, Ethen Shapiro referenced Maya’s previous testimony in the case, when she said that her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) prevents her from going out and making friends. “This is the life of Maya Kowalski today,” Shapiro told the judge. “We did not aggravate a preexisting condition. She’s at her prom, she’s out in heels, has friends — it’s in complete contradiction to her testimony.”
The Kowalskis’ attorneys argued that the photos should not be admitted, in part because Maya didn’t post them and also because the other people in the photo are not relevant to the case, making the photo itself inappropriate for the jury to be shown.
The judge allowed two of the photos to enter into evidence but agreed that the photo showing Maya and her friends on Halloween should not be admitted.
Maya was recalled to the witness stand on Wednesday to address the photos.
“I got my dress the day before Homecoming, because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go. That was dependant on my physical condition and my mental condition.” She also said that she cried from leg pain before the photos were taken, and that she only attended the event because the tickets had previously been purchased and she felt obligated to go.
Maya said she did not stay for the entire event, and that she did not post any of the photos. She accused the defense of searching through her friends’ accounts to find the photos, but attorneys for the hospital clarified that they had received them via email.
Maya also acknowledged going out for Halloween, saying she spent a couple of hours at a friend’s house at an event over the last weekend.