A forensic pathologist hired by Russell Long’s defense testified Friday that Long and Jessica Adkins’ infant daughter died from blunt head trauma and classified the death as homicide.
It wasn’t clear what Dr. Jonathan Arden’s testimony added to the case because he agreed with the findings of Dr. Teresa Campbell, the pathologist who performed Kaylie Trinity Adkins’ autopsy two years ago.
It could be that Arden’s opinion was meant to sway jurors into believing Adkins was more responsible in Kaylie’s death than her former fiance, Long.
The two are on trial for first-degree murder this week. Adkins is charged under child neglect for not obtaining proper medical care for Kaylie and Long has two counts, one by child abuse and the other by child neglect.
State prosecutors rested their case against Adkins who discovered her daughter’s limp, lifeless body March 6, 2009, after she got home from work. Long was unemployed and the primary caregiver for Kaylie and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter Lilliana while Adkins worked.
A week prior to Kaylie’s death, she began throwing up her formula and sleeping for longer spans of time — one day up to 10 hours straight.
Kaylie first got sick around Feb. 27 while Adkins was working.
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks after her death that Long admitted to police and Adkins that he dropped Kaylie after getting her out of the bathtub that day and that she fell off the couch later that evening.
But it was apparently after those incidents that Kaylie started throwing up, and continued to until the middle of the following week.
Neighbors of Long and Adkins testified they urged the couple to get Kaylie to a doctor because she was throwing up and her color didn’t look good.
Adkins told police she called the Johnson City Pediatrics emergency line on Sunday, March 1 and a doctor called back and told Long to give Kaylie small amounts of Pedialyte.
Neither Long nor Adkins testified during the trial, but the jury did hear from each of them in police interviews that were videotaped.
When Johnson City Police Investigator Joe Harrah told Adkins how her daughter died — from bleeding on her brain — she was shocked and had no idea what could have injured her child.
In an interview shown to the jury Friday — the last Harrah conducted with Adkins before charging her with murder by neglect — Adkins was sobbing hysterically, trying to tell Harrah she thought Kaylie had a stomach virus.
Adkins was adamant in that interview that Kaylie’s pediatrician, Dr. Chris Leeds, looked at the infant on March 2 when her older daughter had a 2-year check-up.
“He said plainly, ‘Keep her on liquids even if you have to use a dropper.’”
Leeds testified earlier in the day that if he had examined Kaylie, he would have noted it in her charge, and that if he had known Kaylie had been dropped, he would have wanted to examine her.
Leeds’ medical assistant that day, Tracy Fair, also testified, but contrary to what Harrah had said she told him.
Fair testified that she remembers Kaylie being at the appointment, but didn’t take notice of her or her appearance. Harrah said Fair told him the baby looked gray and lifeless.
In Adkins’ interview, she told Harrah that she checked on Kaylie after she got home from work March 5, then again around 1 a.m. March 6 before she went to bed.
That’s when she discovered Kaylie cold and lifeless. She told Long to call 911, but emergency workers could not revive the infant.
After the state rested its case, one of Adkins’ attorneys, Jim Bowman, announced his client rests her case. Long’s attorneys presented two witnesses — a friend of the couple’s who had seen the family on March 1 and said Kaylie looked fine, and Arden — then rested their case.
Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp sent the jury home for the weekend and attorneys will give closing arguments Monday before the case goes to the jury.
If convicted, Long and Adkins both face life in prison.
Prior to the trial, Adkins was free on an OR, own recognizance, bond but is now in custody without bond because she was late getting there on Wednesday. Long is being held on a $1 million bond.