Jurors in a first-degree murder case heard opening statements and the beginning of the state’s case against a child’s parents, but not before one was taken back into custody for being late.
Russell Long, 26, and Jessica Adkins, 23, are on trial in the March 6, 2009, death of 2-month-old Kaylie Trinity Adkins.
A jury was seated on Tuesday and the trial got under way around 10 a.m.
The delay was due to Adkins being 50 minutes late because she said her power went out and she overslept.
Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp said her actions were “reprehensible,” and ordered her bond revoked. He also demanded she be “shackled” with leg braces that prevent inmates from running.
That process took another 20 minutes.
State prosecutors presented four of their witnesses Wednesday, including a couple — Teri Adams and Glen Rokicka — who lived near Long and Adkins on Edna Court in 2009.
Both testified they saw Long, Adkins and young Kaylie several times in the days leading up to the infant’s death, partly because Long and Adkins expressed concern about their daughter being sick.
After Kaylie’s death, Long and Adkins told police their daughter had been throwing up her formula for about a week before she died and that she slept a lot.
Adams testified she told Adkins the girl didn’t look well and should be taken to the hospital. Rokicka also testified he had more than one conversation with Long about taking the girl to see a doctor.
Rokicka testified Long told him that he couldn’t take the girl to the ER because he didn’t have her birth certificate or proof showing he was the father.
Johnson City Police Investigator Joe Harrah testified that when he interviewed Long and Adkins after Kaylie’s death, they told him she had been to the doctor.
Adkins specifically said she talked to the doctor about her daughter throwing up and that he told her to give the baby Pedialyte and if she wasn’t better soon to take her to the hospital.
During opening statements, Adkins’ lead attorney, Jim Bowman, told the jury up front that his client lied about taking Kaylie to the doctor, but said that doesn’t make her a bad mother. He told the jury that the case against his client will come down to “what did she know and when did she know it.
“You will hear nothing to suggest she did not love this child,” Bowman said.
Long took care of the couple’s two children while Adkins worked second shift at a call center. She told police that when she called home on her break to check on Kaylie, Long would tell her how the evening was going.
She never reported Long saying the baby had been injured.
Prosecutors also put Dr. Teresa Campbell, the forensic pathologist who performed Kaylie’s autopsy, on the stand to testify about the baby’s injuries.
Campbell determined Kaylie died from blunt force trauma to the head, and said the girl had several injuries with a range of injury dates.
Two rib fractures occurred seven to 14 days prior to the death, while bleeding on the child’s brain occurred between five and eight days before.
On cross examination by Adkins’ second-seat attorney, Donna Bolton, Campbell was asked to read one sentence from her autopsy report. Under Campbell’s general appearance category, she wrote that she observed a “female infant, well nourished, with no apparent external injuries.”
Under cross examination by Bill Donaldson, one of Long’s attorneys, Campbell testified that she initially thought Kaylie’s death was from SIDS. She changed her opinion when she began finding injuries and fractures during the autopsy, she said.
The jury ended its day watching part of a recorded police interview between Harrah and Long.
Long appeared to show shock when Harrah told him his daughter died from her brain bleeding, but continued to deny knowing how she was injured.
Prosecutors will show jurors the remainder of that interview when testimony resumes today. During his opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks told the panel to pay close attention to Long’s body language and his responses to Harrah’s questions. He said that will help show Long was hiding something at that time.
Both Adkins and Long face life in prison if convicted at their September trial. Adkins was free on an own recognizance bond but is now in custody without bond. Long is being held on a $1 million bond.