By Jena Johnson - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Emotions ran high Monday in the trial of a Lufkin woman on trial in connection with the death of a child. as the defenses' final witness took the stand. Some don't buy Samantha Wideman's tears.
"It was a show, all a show," said Eddie Lyon the uncle of Ian Landers, the toddler who died.
Wideman's aunt believes her niece is innocent and says her tears are real.
"They were showing her photographs of how she found Ian and it was taken her back to that moment," said Sheila Phillips, Wideman's aunt.
Six days of grueling testimony and the family says there are no concrete answers as to what happened to Ian before his death.
"And there never will be one," Lyon said. "There never will be. Unless she says hey this is what I did exactly. She's the only person that knows exactly what happened."
"I don't really think anybody knows exactly what happened or how it happened," Phillips said. "If they did, they're not coming forward."
Wideman testified she never hurt Ian. In closing arguments, the defense stated there's no evidence to prove she did.
"She was the one that was responsible for Ian during this time and unless she states it then we'll never know exactly what happened," Lyon said.
The state says the evidence they've presented is consistent with child abuse.
"I think Ian will get justice," Lyon said. "That's what I think. They've presented enough evidence that she'll never harm another kid."
In a closing statement, the state says we can't get Ian back, but we can, based on this evidence bring Ian justice.
Ryan Deaton questioned Wideman if she was guilty of hurting Ian in anyway.
"No," she testified.
Deaton asked Wideman to revisit August 2006, when CPS allegations first arose after Ian's mother discovered a bump on the back of his head.
"I was told it was from a coffee table," said Wideman. "It happened in my home, but I was not there."
Wideman explained the fall happened at her home when Scott and his mother were there. She emphasized she was not present.
On August 14, 2007 a second allegation came up when Ian's mother found bruising around his penis area. "I wasn't even there," Wideman testified. "I believe I was at Target.
Wideman then explained that Ian was at her mother's house. Wideman said she was told Ian fell off a tricycle.
Deaton asked Wideman to tell the jury about her relationship with Ian. She began to cry.
"I loved Ian," she testified. "I wanted him to feel as comfortable as he could around me."
Deaton asked Wideman to tell the jury what happened the morning of Aug. 31.
Wideman testified Ian and her four-year-old daughter were in the bedroom playing when her daughter came running out and said Ian was trying to stand on his head and is now asleep.
She said Ian seemed a little dazed. "He wasn't like normal Ian, but it wasn't like he was hurting or anything," Wideman testified.
Shortly after Ian 'injured himself' on August 31, he was taken to the ER. Wideman described the ER as extremely hectic, so hectic Ian was laying on a stretcher in the hospital hallway.
She said she felt the doctor treating Ian did not seem too concerned.
"The only thing he was concerned with was getting us out of there as fast as he could," she said.
In previous cross-examination, Deaton had questioned Dr. Medias Medina, an ER doctor, if he believed Wideman when she told him "Ian had knocked himself out."
"You could tell he wasn't taking me seriously," Wideman testified.
On the morning of Sept. 1, 2007, Wideman testified her four-year-old daughter had called for Ian from the bedroom.
"Ian got up out of the chair and turned around to see the TV and he just fell down and I ran over to him to revive," she said.
Deaton questioned Wideman about her four-year-old daughter's behavior towards Ian. "They played really rough and I've seen times where she's pushed him, knocked his feet from under him," she said. "They jumped on the bed like crazy people."
Deaton then asked Wideman to describe the atmosphere at the hospital in Houston. "You could have cut the tension with a knife," she said. "Everybody was pointing fingers. They wanted to know what happened. It was bad."
Deaton asked her if she ever hit Ian.
"No," Wideman replied.
He questioned if she ever shook Ian.
"No," she testified.
The prosecution questioned Wideman's previous mention that Tonya Lyon, Scott Landers' estranged wife, was jealous of her.
"I don't know," said Wideman. "She just did not like the idea of Scott being with another woman. I wouldn't call it jealousy towards me."
Prosecuting attorney Dale Summa explained that was understandable because she was still married to Scott.
"Well she had other boyfriends, so I guess we both messed up," said Wideman.
"I guess two wrongs make a right," replied Summa.
Moving on, Summa asked Wideman to direct her attention to August 31.
Summa questioned Wideman if she heard anything before her four-year-old came running out of her room to tell her something was wrong with Ian.
"No," she said. "I don't think anything other than regular bickering."
Summa asked Wideman several specific questions as to where she found Ian in her daughter's bedroom. Wideman could not recall.
Wideman said her four-year-old was the only one in the room when Ian was found unconscious August 31.
"Every time I tried to talk to her about what happened, she won't talk about it," Wideman testified.
"So, you specifically asked her if she hit Ian and she denied it?" Summa asked.
"Yes," she replied.
Summa asked Wideman what type of hitting her daughter would do.
"Open handed, she pushed him down," said Wideman. "I've never seen her punch him, but I've seen her slap him."
Summa asked if her daughter's behavior towards Ian had concerned her at the time.
"I honestly thought it was just normal brother and sister kind of thing," said Wideman.
Wideman said she would characterize her daughter's behavior as aggressive, but she wasn't too concerned about it.