LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Testimony in the jury trial for the Lufkin man accused of brutally beating a3-year-old boy to death in December 2010 got underway Tuesday morning.
The trial is being held in the 217th Judicial District Court.
Kerry Jock Woodard, 27, is accused of causing multiple injuries to thechild, including a lacerated liver, a contusion on the lung, hemorrhages in theeyes and spinal cord, subdural hematomas of the brain, and more than 100documented contusions and abrasions on the head, torso, legs, and arms.
It happened while Woodard was watching the child, Zikeishun Lane, while themother was working. The child was originally treated for the injuries at aLufkin hospital in December 2010, and he later died at a Houston hospital.
In his opening statements, prosecutor Art Bauereiss explained to jurorsWoodard was dating the child's mother Valerie Mosby. The couple lived togetherand it had become a routine for them the take Zikeishun to Woodard's mother'shouse, after dropping of the child Woodward would take his girlfriend to work.
Bauereiss told jurors on December 6, 2010, Woodard's routine changed. Atsome point during the day, Woodard returned to his mother's home to pick upZikeishun. Later that night, when Woodard picked up Mosby from work, Zikeishunwas in the back seat. Upon returning to their shared residence, Woodard carriedthe boy inside while Mosby went inside.
Bauereiss explained to jurors that when Woodard brought the child into thehouse, he screamed, "He's not breathing." Zikeishun's mother triedCPR, but was unsuccessful. The couple then took the child to the MemorialHealth System of East Texas ER.
After Zikeishun was revived, medical staff contacted Angelina Countyauthorities because the severe bruising on his body made it clear he had beenbeaten.
According to the prosecutor, Woodard's story changed several times. Whenquestioned, he first told authorities that he and the child's mother picked upthe child. Then Woodard claimed he visited a friend in Nacogdoches and thencame home to watch Monday Night Football. He changed his story again, saying hewent to Nacogdoches to watch the football game, Bauereiss, said.
Mosby took the stand toward the end of Tuesday's testimony. She explainedthat Zikeishun, or Zi, was born on August 4, 2007 and that his biologicalfather, Zachary Lane stayed involved in his son's life after the couple splitup.
When asked what Zikeishun was like, Mosby said, "He was a big fan ofvideo games. He liked football, playing with balls. he was very active andenergetic."
Responding to questions from Bauereiss, Mosby said that she moved toNacogdoches in early 2010, and that it was there that she met Woodard. Duringthat time, she was working at the Nacogdoches Kroger and going to school atAngelina College. Mosby said that while she was away from home, Zikeishunstayed at day care facilities in Nacogdoches. She added there was never any indicationof abuse from the day care providers or from the little boy's biologicalfather.
Mosby said shortly after she moved in with Woodard at a trailer on FM 843 inAngelina County, Zikeishun's biological father took the boy back to SanAugustine. When asked what precipitated the move, she said she had beennotified by Child Protective Services that Woodard was a registered sexoffender.
"Did that give you some concern?" Bauereiss asked.
"Yes, sir," Mosby said.
Then she admitted to staying with Woodard because she was "inlove" with him. However, Mosby testified that she went to San Augustineand got her son back from his biological father in October 2010 and added,"I was needing my son."
Later that year, Mosby went to work for the Lufkin State-Supported LivingCenter, working the 2-10:30 p.m. shift. She said that she and Woodard wereusually a one-vehicle family. Their normal routine was that she would get uparound 10 and feed Zikeishun before she got ready. Then Woodard would usuallydrop her off at work and pick her up when she got off in the evening. Along theway, they would drop the boy off at Woodard's parent's home on Ramsey Road.
Mosby said that Mary Woodard would often keep several of Zikeishun's cousinsas well. She said that she never had occasion to leave the state school tocheck up on Zikeishun. In addition, she said that when she was home, she triedto make sure that Woodard was never alone with her son.
"I would always be around," she said.
Mosby admitted that Woodard would often have Zikeishun in the car with himwhen he came to pick her up from work. She said that happened as often as fourtimes a week. Normally, he would park in a certain place and have rap musicblaring from the car's stereo.
"Why did you stay with him after the CPS warned you about him?"Bauereiss asked.
"I was scared at the time, controlled," Mosby said.
The routine changed on Dec. 6, 2010. Mosby said that she was struck by thefact that Woodard didn't park in his usual spot, and there was no audiblemusic.
When Mosby went out the car, Zikeishun looked asleep to her. She testifiedthat she didn't try to hug or kiss the little boy and that nothing seemed outof the ordinary. Upon getting home, Mosby went inside without taking her sonout of the car because she had a toothache. She said Woodard brought Zikeishunin that day, and she went straight to her pre bedtime grooming routine -cleaning up and taking a bath.
Not long after she started taking a bath, Woodard came in and told her thatshe needed to do CPR on Zikeishun, saying, "He's not breathing."
"How'd that make you feel?" Bauereiss asked.
"Straight shock," Mosby said. "I went straight to him andcalled his name, and he was unresponsive."
After Mosby got dressed, she and Woodard rushed Zikeishun to the MemorialHealth System of East Texas ER. She said that, at the time, she didn't see anysigns of bruising or injury on her son's body.
When asked if anything else about that day seemed odd, Mosby said thatWoodard called her at work and said that he was going to pick Zikeishun up fromhis parents' house a little early to make it easier when it came time for himto pick her up from work.
Mosby said she only heard "bits and pieces" of Zikeishun'scondition from the doctors at Memorial. She didn't realize just how serious thingswere until they told her they were going to life-flight her son to a Houstonhospital.
"I knew that it had to be pretty bad," Mosby said.
Later that evening, Woodard drove Mosby to the Angelina County Sheriff'sOffice. She testified that along the way, he told her, "I'm a registeredsex offender, and I can't be around kids." Then he allegedly told Mosbythat she needed to tell investigators that she had been the one driving.
"What did you think about that?" Bauereiss asked.
"At the time, I was scared, so I did it," Mosby said.
The next morning, on the drive down to Houston, Woodard and Mosby discussedpossible scenarios for what might have caused Zikeishun's injuries. At onepoint, Woodard allegedly said, "What if he fell?"
At the Houston hospital she went into a private room with Zikeishun'sbiological father, and the doctor told them that the boy probably wasn't goingto make it. Woodard wasn't in on the meeting with the doctors, Mosby said.
When asked if Zikeishun looked any different the last time she saw him,Mosby said, "He was just laying unconscious. He had a mark under his eye,and I saw a few bruises on his stomach. I saw a few scratches on his head andhis arms."
After Mosby said her goodbyes to her son, she agreed to allow Zikeishun tobe an organ donor. At that point, doctors took the 3-year-old off life support.
Later Bauereiss asked Mosby if she inflicted the injuries on her son."No, sir," she replied.
Under questioning from the prosecutor, Mosby said that when she disciplinedher son, she would "spank him, tap him on the hand, talk to him."
Bauereiss then asked if Mosby had ever seen Woodard discipline Zikeishun. Shereplied that her ex-boyfriend would "just swat him down, hit him."Later, she admitted that Woodard didn't like the fact that Zikeishun whined toomuch. She also said he took exception to the amount of time she spent with herson.
"He would say, 'Don't baby him," Mosby said.
Later, Mosby admitted to lying to Angelina County Sheriff's Office deputiesand special investigators with the CPS. She said that she lied about pickingZikeishun up at Mary Woodard's house on Dec. 6, 2010 and when she told one ofthe investigators that she threw her son against her couch because she wasfrustrated with him.
Toward the end of Tuesday's testimony, Bauereiss played a recording of acell phone conversation that Mosby had with Woodard in January 2011. At thetime, she was using a prepaid cell phone and a digital recording device thathad been provided to her by Davey Hill, who had been working as an ACSOinvestigator at that time.
On the recording, Woodard said that "everyone" was saying hekilled Zikeishun, and said he was trying to figure it out as well.
"They're trying to put it on me," he said on the recording.
During the long, rambling conversation filled with vulgarities, Mosby triedseveral times to get Woodard to explain what happened to her son. At one pointin the conversation, Mosby said, "Do you understand my baby died? My babyis dead."
On the recording, Woodard said investigators tried to tell him that Mosbyhurt Zikeishun and that he defended her. "Nobody beat that baby ornothin,'" Woodward said on the recording. "It was an accident. I'mstill (expletive) up, messed up. Later, Woodard suggested that Zikeishun fell offa "damn tricycle."
Bauereiss also entered a text conversation between Woodard and Mosby intoevidence. The text conversation also took place on the sheriff's office prepaidphone. In it, Woodard accused Mosby of working with law enforcement to"get him," and told her that he still loved her.
Toward the end of his questioning of Mosby, Bauereiss asked her, "Didyou ever think that you should step back, that 'my baby's in danger?'" Ina quiet voice, Mosby replied, "Yes, sir."
During his cross examination, defense attorney Al Charanza got Mosby toadmit that Zachary Lane had taken her son away and that he had called CPS withallegations that Woodard was sexually abusing Zikeishun. Testimony by two CPSspecial investigators said those accusations were later "ruled out."
"How is it that you would let Zachary take your child?" Charanzaasked Mosby.
The defense attorney also pointed out there was a seven-month period whereshe rarely ever saw her son because she was living with Woodard. Mosby repliedthat she called the child support authorities several times during that time.
"Weren't you concerned about your son?" Charanza responded.
The first witness to take the stand was ER physician Jerry Jenkins, whoworked to revive Zikeishun in the trauma room. Jenkins said ER physicians gavethe child a breathing tube because he wasn't able to breathe on his own. The ERphysician said doctors ultimately resorted to using pace makers pads becausethey couldn't restart the boy's heart.
"We put pace maker pads on his chest, and we just dialed up the gain ofthe electrical current that we tried to use to jump start the heart,"Jenkins said.
When the child was revived, Jenkins described him as pale. He added thatmultiple bruises became visible.
"I was struck with the number of bruises that showed up; we didn't seethose initially because his blood pressure was so low," Jenkins said.
"The magnitude of the bruising was remarkable," Jenkins continued.
Jenkins says the physicians were obligated to notify the authorities becauseit appeared the child had suffered abuse.
The prosecution showed jurors pictures of the child's body, after he hadbeen revived at the hospital. Jenkins explained the bruises that were locatedon his arms, legs, and back. In addition Zikeishun had some severe bruisingaround his face and head.
Lufkin Police officer, Clay Van Eman testified that he was called to Memorialabout an "unresponsive child." He said that the child was severelybruised, and that Woodard appeared calm when he talked to the man about whathad happened.
"It was not something that a normal child could have done to himselfplaying or falling," Van Enman said.
ACSO deputy B.J Murphy said he was in disbelief when he saw Zikeishun'sbruised body. He also testified that Woodard's demeanor didn't fit the situation.
"It seemed like Kerry didn't have a care in the world it didn't appearthat it bothered him that she was even upset,"Murphy said.
In contrast, Mosby seemed "completely distraught" and"hysterical" at the sight of her three-year-old son with severe traumaand lying in a hospital bed with "tubes down his throat," Murphysaid.
Davey Hill, an ACSO patrol sergeant, was working as an investigator inDecember 2010. On the stand, he backed up Murphy's assertion that Mosby wasdistraught and hysterical.
At first, Woodard told Hill that Mosby had dropped Zikeishun off at hisparents' house, and that he stayed home all day. Hill testified that Woodard'sfirst version of the story was that his ex-girlfriend returned home with thelittle boy at about 11 p.m. on Dc. 6, 2010.
Although Woodard was cooperative, he was also being evasive during his oralstatement, Hill said. He later testified that he was aware that CPS wasconducting a parallel investigation on Woodard.
"He said he wasn't allowed at his parents' house because of his pastcriminal record," Hill said. "He rambled and went off subject and hetold me he was a registered sex offender and couldn't be around children."