By Shaley Sanders
and Gary Bass
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man accused in the death of a three-year-old boy took the stand Friday, saying he never abused the boy.
Also Friday, District Judge Barry Bryan reduced the charge against Kerry Jock Woodard, 29, from capital murder to first-degree murder.
Woodard is accused of causing multiple injuries to the child, including a lacerated liver, a contusion on the lung, hemorrhages in the eyes and spinal cord, subdural hematomas of the brain, and more than 100 documented contusions and abrasions on the head, torso, legs, and arms.
It happened while Woodard was watching the child, Zikeishun Lane, while the mother was working. The child was originally treated for the injuries at a Lufkin hospital in December 2010, and he later died at a Houston hospital.
During testimony Friday, defense attorney Al Charanza asked Woodard why he and Valerie Mosby did not go to the Houston hospital when Zikeishun was life flighted there.
"Valerie didn't want to go to Houston," Woodard stated. He said Valerie got off work around 10:30 p.m. and was too tired to make the trip.
"I told her we need to go right now. She said, 'I needed some rest.' I let her get some rest," Woodard said.
When the couple drove to Houston the next morning Woodard said he was not allowed to visit his girlfriend's son in the hospital.
"I couldn't see the baby. There was some guy trying to interrogate me. They were trying to tell me to leave. I said, 'I'm not going to leave my girlfriend up here.' They said, 'you're a sex offender so you gotta leave.' My feelings were hurt," Woodard said.
He then told the jury he had his friend pick him up from the hospital.
Charanza then asked Woodard what the car ride to Houston was like with Valerie.
"She was crying and upset," Woodard explained.
"I said, 'Valerie do you think I did anything to your baby?' She said, 'I don't think you would do nothing like that,'" Woodard said.
Charanza asked Woodard if he noticed anything wrong with Zikeishun in days leading up to his death.
"We told her to take him to the doctor," Woodard said, referring to advice his sister gave him.
"Valerie said she ain't got Medicaid. I used to get on to Valerie about the way she used to treat her son. She said, "We'll wait till he gets his Medicaid. He was sick; he said his head was hurting. I was thinking the way he walked, he was clumsy. He hit his head a couple of times," Woodard explained.
Charanza asked if Woodard ever saw bruises on Zikeishun.
"Yes sir," Woodard said.
Woodard said he saw Valerie discipline her son with a belt.
"Valerie got aggravated, hot tempered. Valerie would get very upset, that's why I stayed on her because some stuff, she would overdue it," Woodard told the jury.
"Did you ever discipline Zy?" Charanza asked.
"Yes, sir. I didn't discipline Zy like whoop him," Woodard said. He added that he would "tap him" because he respected Zy's biological father.
"It's not my son, but I loved him like he was. I would tap him like that because he was talking back to his mother; I tried to teach him that was wrong. My discipline was little taps, little pops; it wasn't bruising him or nothing like that," Woodard said.
Woodard said he never injured Zy, but maybe some of the injuries came from him falling or playing rough with friends.
Charanza showed Woodard a picture of his front porch that had a few steps leading up to the front door.
"Is it true testimony that you saw Zy fall off this porch?" Charanza asked.
"Yes, sir. He fell down on his side. He fell on his side another time. I don't know if it's balanced; he walked like he was scared. I don't know if he was clumsy, but he had fell back. There was a hole right here and he had came in and he don't pay attention when he walked, he was only three," Woodard said as he pointed to the picture. "He tripped in the hole and fell right there. Valerie picked him up by the arm; he was crying," Woodard added.
While Woodard was on the stand he talked about the relationship he had with Zy's mother.
He told Charanza when he met Valerie a few years ago, he told her he was a registered sex offender.
"I told her I've been convicted of having sex with an underage girl; she was fine with it," Woodard said.
As the relationship progressed, Woodard said Valerie and her son Zy moved into his residence in Lufkin.
"Me and Valerie had a good relationship, but it started going like downhill. I said, "why don't you just go on and leave. It was so much stuff; CPS coming to my house accusing me of stuff that I didn't, so I told her to go on and leave," Woodard said.
Woodard explained that despite their relationship problems, Valerie did not move out and Child Protective Services continued to make visits to the house.
He said on one visit, CPS asked he and Valerie about domestic abuse and cocaine use.
"I don't even know what cocaine is," Woodard told the jury.
When questioned in more detail about his relationship with Valerie he explained that they just "played rough."
Charanza took Woodard back to December 6, 2010, the night the couple took Zy to a Lufkin hospital.
Woodard said the couple picked the child up from his mother's house, where he often stayed. Woodard said he noticed Zy looked ill.
Woodard said when they got home he noticed Zy wasn't breathing.
"He wasn't responding; I got frightened," Woodard explained. He said Valerie tried to perform CPR, but Woodard decided to take Zy to a local hospital.
"When we got to the hospital, Valerie was like, she was like broke down. I called my mom and asked what happened," Woodard said.
Shortly after Zy was taken to a Lufkin hospital, he was life-flighted to the Houston hospital where he later died.
After the court recessed for lunch, the judge said the charge of capital murder had been changed to murder. Judge Barry Bryan asked Prosecutor Art Bauereiss if he was okay with this lesser charge.
Bauereiss agreed, that it was the best thing for this case.
"Let's get the record straight. Are you the same Kerry Woodard that was convicted of aggravated robbery in 2002?" Bauereiss asked once testimony resumed following the break for lunch.
"Yes, sir," Woodard said.
"Do you think that was a dishonest act?" Bauereiss asked.
"I don't know about all that," Woodard replied.
Bauereiss pointed out that Woodard used a gun in the commission of the robbery. He also told the jury that Woodard had been convicted of sexual assault in November 2007, and that the actual incident happened in December 2005.
"You told the jury that it was you having sex with a 14-year-old when you were 23. Bauereiss said. "However, is it true that you decided to make her a little more pliant with Crown Royal? And she woke up with you putting yourself on her. Dec. 2005."
Woodard shook his head.
Bauereiss then asked Woodard if he had only worked one job his adult life, and he said yes.
"I had money coming in monthly, and I had support from my mom and dad," Woodard said. "I had friends and associates that would just help me out."
Bauereiss asked Woodard if he remembered telling B.J. Murphy, an ACSO deputy, that he and Valerie dropped Zy off at Woodard's parents and that you spent the rest of the day at your house. Told another investigator that he picked Zikeishun up around 11 a.m. and stayed home the rest of the day.
"Maybe they misunderstood me," Woodard said.
At one point, Bauereiss objected because Woodard was unresponsive. Finally, Woodard testified that he refused to give a written statement to ACSO investigators.
"Do you remember what you told CPS special investigator Coy Collins?" Bauereiss asked.
"Yes, sir," Woodard said.
Under cross examination from the prosecutor, Woodard said he could not remember telling Collins that he wasn't supposed to be anywhere his parents' house because of his sexual assault conviction. He also couldn't remember telling the investigator that he spent the day in Nacogdoches or that he returned home by 7 p.m. to watch Monday Night Football.
"Do you remember characteriZyng yourself as an honest person?" Bauereiss asked. "Do think the case might be that you're actually the one who is dishonest, and the officers are the honest ones?"
"That's your opinion," Woodard said.
Bauereiss asked Woodard if it was true that he testified that Mosby treated Zikeishun like a girl. Woodard replied that he thought Mosby was too easy on the boy, and that the boy should "man up."
"Did you testify that Zikeishun was whiny?" Bauereiss asked. "He was cutting into your time with Valerie, wasn't he?"
"No, sir," Woodard said.
The prosecutor asked if Woodard called Mosby when the Monday Night Football game was over to ask if she wanted him to come pick her up. Bauereiss said that he thought it was odd that Woodard never mentioned that he was hanging out with his "homies" in Nacogdoches in any of the text messages.
"Do you remember being arrested on Dec. 14, 2011?" Bauereiss asked.
"Yes, sir," Woodard said.
Woodard also testified that he wouldn't give investigators BooZye's real name or phone number. He also admitted that he didn't give them phone numbers or contact information for any of the men he claimed he had been hanging out with on Dec. 6, 2010.
"Do you remember talking to your mom about getting your story straight?" Bauereiss asked.
"It's been so long that I can't remember," Woodard said.
Bauereiss also asked Woodard if it was true that he was issued a criminal trespass warning to stay away from his parents' house in 2010.
"You still think this was all a big accident, don't you?" Bauereiss asked.
"Something happened, something real bad," Woodard said. "I don't know what."
Bauereiss asked if Woodard remembered the doctors and forensic scientists testifying that Zikeishun's death was the result of child abuse and that it was a homicide.
"Yes, sir," Woodard said.
The prosecutor asked Woodard if he still thought Zikeishun got brain damage or a lacerated liver from falling off the steps at his parents' house.
"Maybe," Woodard replied. "He was always falling down."
Bauereiss also asked if Woodard had "floated" one version of the story that alleged Zikeishun had been in a car accident with his biological father. The prosecutor pointed out that it was very likely that his attorney would have found information to support that claim if it was true.
In addition, Bauereiss read from Woodard's statement to one of the ACSO investigators. In the statement, Woodard defended Mosby and said that she was a "good mother" and that she wouldn't have hurt Zikeishun, which differed from what Woodard said earlier Friday, when he said that Mosby would often lose her temper and hit Zikeishun with a belt.
Later, Bauereiss read from another transcript and pointed out that Woodard got angry at Mosby for calling him more than a year after Zikeishun's and asking what had happened on Dec. 6, 2010, using curse words and the "n-word."
"Do you remember dodging the question like you have been here today?" Bauereiss asked.
"I haven't been dodging any questions," Woodard said.
Under further questioning from Bauereiss, Woodard admitted that he continued to tell Mosby that Zikeishun's death was an accident even though he had brain damage and other severe injuries. Then when she asked what time he picked Zikeishun, he said, "I picked him up normal."
"I knew that she probably be recording me," Woodard explained.
Attacking Woodard's earlier testimony that Mosby didn't ever take her son to the doctor because she didn't have Medicare, Bauereiss presented Woodard with a big sheath of papers from Zikeishun's San Augustine doctor. He said there were numerous instances of her taking him in for normal childhood ailments like diarrhea and stomach aches.
"Did Jahayla get it wrong when she said you would hit Zy with a belt?" Bauereiss asked.
"I don't know," Woodard said. "I was never around them much."
Bauereiss pointed to a court document that said Woodard's niece and nephew were only allowed back in the Woodard home if he wasn't allowed to come around them.
Woodard also told Bauereiss that his nephew was "playing around" when he showed the jurors what he saw his Uncle Jock do to Zikeishun during Thursday's testimony. During the video testimony, the boy repeatedly punched and shook a doll. Before that, he had said, "I don't want to be Uncle Jock."
"He was smiling and laughing," Woodard said.
Woodard agreed that Monday Night Football typically takes about three hours in response to a question from the prosecutor. Bauereiss then asked him how it was possible for him to get back to the Lufkin state-supported living facility in time to pick up Mosby by 10:30 and then get to the hospital by 11:03. The prosecutor also pointed out that Woodard sent texts to Mosby saying that the game was over, and that he was on his way.
"I left Nacogdoches around 9 p.m., and I watched the rest of the game at my house," Woodard said.
Bauereiss then asked Woodard if Mosby's co-worker had been wrong about when she said that Woodard had parked in a different place and there wasn't any rap music blaring from his car. Woodard didn't answer the question, other than to say that he didn't always stick to the routine specified by Mosby's co-worker.
The prosecutor referred to Murphy's testimony that Jimmy Woodard told him that Woodard, his son, had come to get Zikeishun from their house about 6 or 7 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2010.
"My daddy don't know what happened – he was asleep," Woodard said.
Woodard later admitted that he could have been finishing up with burning CDs at his parents' house about that time when Bauereiss used the cell phone records to pinpoint Woodard's location.
When Bauereiss asked if that was when he left with Zikeishun, Woodard said, "Are you saying I drove all the way back to Nacogdoches to watch the rest of the game?"
"I don't know. That's a piece of the puzzle that you aren't giving us," Bauereiss replied.
Woodard said at one point that he didn't stay at his parents' long because he went into town to pick up medicine. Bauereiss pointed out that Mosby didn't mention that Woodard had gone to get medicine in any of the versions of the story that she gave to investigators.
Bauereiss pointed out that Woodard never once denied that he hurt Zikeishun or said that he was innocent in any of the recorded conversations with his mother, Mary Woodard.
Charanza pointed out that the cell phone towers on the north side of Lufkin didn't "ping" later in the evening of Dec. 6, 2010, indicating that Woodard wasn't on that side of town.
Woodard testified that "the laws" were going to drop the criminal trespass warning. He told Charanza that it was all because of a "misunderstanding" with one of his parents' neighbors.
Charanza pointed out a part of the recorded conversation between him in and Mosby in which she told hold him what about Zikeishun's injuries. He read part of the transcript in which Woodard said, "I don't know what happened. I'm still trying to figure that out." Later, Charanza read part of the transcript in which Woodard claimed law enforcement was trying to "put" Zikeishun's death on him.
Under further questioning from his defense attorney, Woodard said he refused to give a written statement to ACSO investigators because he didn't want to wind up telling them"a lie," accidentally. Woodard also testified that he had been getting a Social Security check since he was a child.
During his questioning, Bauereiss took Woodard back to the night of Dec. 6, 2010.
"Is it true that you and Valerie couldn't go to the hospital in Houston that night because y'all didn't have the money, Bauereiss asked. "Valerie Mosby said that y'all had to wait until the next morning, so you could go to a check cashing place. Is it true that you relied on her to pay your rent and other bills?"
"No, sir," Woodard said.
Bauereiss later pointed to a two-hour gap between text messages on the evening of Dec. 6, 2010, and asked, "That was plenty of time to beat on Zy, right?"
Woodard wouldn't answer the question. Later, Woodard stated that investigators weren't asking the right questions because they had already decided he was the one that hurt Zikeishun because of Woodard's past convictions, and they were phrasing things along those lines. He also admitted that he wouldn't provide information that might have cleared him because the investigators "didn't ask those questions."
Charanza asked Woodard about his friend Frederick Robertson, or "Boozie." Woodard testified that when investigators were questioning him, they took his cell phone. He said that he didn't remember things like phone numbers, so he couldn't tell the law enforcement officers. Bauereiss then got Woodard to admit that Mary Woodard knew how to get in touch with Samuel Williams, the other friend that was allegedly with him when he was watching Monday Night Football in Nacogdoches.
After that line of questioning, Charanza said, "The defense rests."
Bauereiss called Tia Simmons to the stand after the afternoon break. She explained that she has known Mosby since 2008. The prosecutor then asked her how Mosby interacted with Zikeishun.
"She treated him very well," Simmons said. "He was a mother's boy."
Simmons said she and Mosby fell out of touch after Mosby started dating Woodard. She also testified that she never saw Zikeishun acting clumsy or uncoordinated. Another state witness, Penelope Mitchell also described Mosby as a good mother. Like Simmons, she said that Zikeishun walked normally and didn't seem clumsy.
Bauereiss called McLin back to the stand and asked him if he had talked to Frederick "Boozie" Robertson and Samuel Williams. McLin said that Williams said Woodard left about half time of the Monday Night Football game on Dec. 6, 2010. Williams gave a different version; he said Woodard left after the game was over, according to McLin. Under further questioning, McLin said that he obtained the contact information for the two men from the district attorney's office.
Charanza asked McLin why he didn't ask the district attorney to drop the case once he got in touch with Woodard's friends. McLin said their stories didn't match up, and that investigators had other evidence that prompted them to pursue the investigation even though Mosby had given them several different versions of the story as well.
Earlier in the day, jurors heard testimony from several of Woodard's friends and family. Samuel Williams, Woodard's first cousin, testified that he, Woodard, and another man were watching Monday Night Football together in Nacogdoches on the night of Dec. 6, 2010. He also said that Woodard left during the third quarter right after Mosby called him on his cell phone.
In response to a question from Charanza, Williams said he had seen Woodard with Zikeishun on several occasions.
"The little boy was clinging to him like he was his daddy," Williams said.
In addition, Williams said he never saw Mosby or Woodard hit Zikeishun. He also said that he never saw marks on the boy either.
Later in his testimony, Williams admitted that he has been in jail for the past five years because he is a convicted felon.
On cross examination, Bauereiss asked Williams if Woodward called him from jail and said, "Sammy, I'm in jail for killing Zy Lane, and it's the night I was watching football with you. Please tell them I can't be good for this because I was watching football with you guys?"
"No, sir," Williams replied.
Bauereiss then went on record saying that Williams was convicted in a Nacogdoches court in May 2002 for aggravated robbery. Williams also has another aggravated assault conviction in another county.
"Would you agree that those are crimes of dishonesty?" Bauereiss asked.
"What do you mean?" Williams replied.
"You took something that didn't belong to you," Bauereiss said.
"Yes, sir," Williams said.
Otis Brown, another friend of Woodard and a convicted felon, said he met Woodard while he was in jail. Brown said he and his wife met Woodard at the Houston hospital on the night of Dec. 6, 2010. Because Woodard said he couldn't go in, the wife went in and got the details for him. Woodard stayed with them for several days after Zikeishun's death.
At a question about Woodard's demeanor following Zikeishun's death, Brown said that Woodard was "moping" and that he kept staring at a screensaver of the boy on his computer.
"He would roll up with weed, just looking at the picture," Brown said.
Later, Brown said Woodard always seemed like "everything was going to fall on him. … He wasn't the same Jock."
During his cross-examination, Bauereiss took Brown back to a conversation he had with McLin. He asked Brown if he remembered saying that Woodard had told him that he had picked up Zikeishun on Dec. 6, 2010.
"He told me he was going to pick Zy up from his mother's house and pick Valerie up," Brown said.
Toward the end of brown's testimony, Bauereiss reminded Brown of a phone conversation they had prior to the trial where Brown said he couldn't testify because he didn't have a ride to Lufkin that he had called the prosecutor and told he that he couldn't testify because he didn't have a ride to Lufkin.
"Yet, all the sudden, you were here to testify for the defendant?" Bauereiss asked.
"I do a lot of good deeds for people," Brown replied.
"When you say good deeds do you mean dope deals?" the prosecutor asked.
"No, I pick up trash," Brown said.
Later in Brown's testimony, Bauereiss asked him to recall the 34-minute conversation he'd had with Woodard on Dec. 6, 2010.
"During that conversation you told investigator McLin that you talked about the studio in Houston," Bauereiss said. "You never once told him that the defendant said he was going to go watch a football game?"
"No," Brown said.
"Did you hold back?" Bauereiss asked.
My mind slipped," Brown said.
"The reason you held back is because you want to help this guy over here who is your prison friend, and you don't want to get to the truth," Bauereiss said.
"To tell you the truth?" Brown said. "Wrong."
"You gave him a place to stay," Bauereiss said.
"I'll help any human," Brown replied, looking right at the prosecutor. "I would help you sir if you needed an aid. I don't have to know you."
Both sides rested their case at approximately 3 p.m. Friday. Judge Barry Bryan released the jurors and told them the court would have a sentence prepared for them when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. Monday