Lufkin woman on trial for killing baby while sleeping with it

Vanessa Clark. Source: Angelina County Jail.
Vanessa Clark. Source: Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin woman charged with killing her second child while sleeping with it is now on trial.

Vanessa Lynn Clark, 33, and her then-husband, Mark Wayne Clark, 32, were indicted in June 2011 after an investigation into the July 2010 death of their two-month-old son. This followed the May 2009 death of a child between the age of four and six months.

A grand jury concluded in July that the couple was negligent in again sleeping with a child and indicted them on a charge of endangering a child.

Mark Clark was arrested in July 2011 following a domestic disturbance with his wife.

The first witness Monday in Vanessa Clark's case was Nathan Smith with Lufkin Fire Department.

Smith recalled reaching Memorial Hospital with the child and doctors ceasing CPR efforts upon seeing the child.

On scene there was little time to gather information because they were focused on treating the child, Smith said.

Smith described as he was  approaching the scene, Clark was standing in front of the door requesting the paramedics save her baby.

Walking into the bedroom, Smith said the baby was at the foot of the bed and his father was performing CPR.

There were no marking or scaring on the baby's body, only a small amount of blood in the mouth, Smith said.

The victim's skin had a blue-ish tint, from lack of oxygen and blotchy patterns on the skin that go along with that condition. Rigor mortis had set in throughout the body, Smith said.

The parents denied any trauma or injury to the child, Smith said.

Stephen Bennett, a registered nurse at Memorial Hospital, testified that Clark was sitting up on a bed didn't take notice of her demeanor and just saw she was upset.

Cpl. Nick Malone testified that he spoke with the parents in a small room in the ER.

During their interview they claimed to have put the child into bed with them at 11:30 p.m.and they set an alarm for 4:30 a.m. to check the child. When they checked the child he wasn't breathing.  The child was next to Vanessa on its back. Vanessa Clark called 911 while Mark Clark performed CPR

Malone said the parents were obviously upset when they were speaking to him and their behavior was consistent with the event of losing a child. They didn't appear to be intoxicated, he said.

Detective Brad Havard said he spoke to the couple together. The confirmed the baby was placed in bed with them at 11:30 p.m. At the ER the couple had a toddler with him whom he believed to be older than five.

The parents were asked to go the police station for further questioning and spoke with a detective.

The child's body was taken to Southwestern institute of forensic science in Dallas for autopsy. Havard was there and didn't notice any markings on the body.

Havard said the bed the child was on was king-sized with several pillows.

Vanessa broke down in tears when prosecuters presented jurors evidence and pictures from the scene.

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