Saturday, November 17, 2007

18 months old toddler suffers from seizures due to parental negligence

The woman accused of negligently allowing her 18-month-old girl to ingest cocaine used the drug, the defendant's mother testified Thursday in Superior Court.

Laura Beck also testified on the second day of the trial that her daughter, Amber Baxley, 19, tested positive for cocaine when she gave birth to another child in March.

The Columbus woman and her boyfriend, Jeremiah Linder, 26, are charged with second-degree cruelty to children, charges that stem from the night of April 21 at the couple's residence, Lot 431, 3150 Plateau Drive.

Beck collected the girl the next morning, though she became worried when the toddler hadn't moved for hours.

"I put her in the (bath) water and tried to wake her up," Beck said. "She had her hand laying on my hand. She was being unresponsive. That's when I called my daughter and said we were going to the hospital."

"They said she tested positive for crack cocaine."

Beck also testified that Baxley's sister and her sister's boyfriend, who lived with Baxley and Linder, also used cocaine.

Latonya Kelly, with the Muscogee County Division of Family and Children Services, testified the girl is now in a therapeutic foster home in Atlanta. Looking at a picture of the girl, she said a mark over her right eye was a scar she got after she fell during a seizure.

"The child had a stroke and now she has seizures daily," Kelly said. "She did have 10 to 20 seizures daily but now has one to five."

Vernicia Jones, a former DFCS worker, testified that Baxley wasn't allowed to be alone with her newborn child or allowed to have any drugs or paraphernalia around the children.

When Assistant District Attorney David Helmick asked her why she was no longer with DFCS, Jones hesitated before answering.

"It was more than I was able to functionally deal with," she said of Baxley and Linder's situation.
During her closing arguments, Baxley's attorney, Susan Henderson, said jurors shouldn't let emotion decide the case. Instead, she told jurors to examine the evidence and not use theory.
"What happened to (the child) should break all of our hearts, but we don't rule on emotion," Henderson said.

Bob Wadkins, who represents Linder, also told jurors to follow the law and not their emotions. He told jurors that the state didn't prove every element of the case, including that the 18-month-old had excessive physical pain.

"They put eight witnesses up there," Wadkins said. "The word 'pain' was not mentioned one single time."

Helmick asked jurors to use their common sense.

"Do you think she enjoyed having seizures?" he asked. "Do you think that felt good? Did you like having 10 to 20 seizures a day?"
Deliberations are expected today.


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