Psychiatrist: Center woman accused of beating baby to death 'knew right from wrong'

Shakeitha Cartwright (Source: Center Police Department)
Shakeitha Cartwright (Source: Center Police Department)

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - During the fourth day of testimony in the ongoing capital murder trial for the Center woman accused of beating her 5-month-old baby girl to death jurors heard testimony from a psychiatrist that said although Shakeitha Cartwright is suffering from depression, she is competent to stand trial.

The psychiatrist also said, based on his interview with Cartwright on Feb.1, 2013, she "knew right and wrong."

Cartwright, 30, of Center faces life in prison. Police allege that on Jan.16, 2013, Keilly Hoyt died from multiple injuries she suffered from abuse by Cartwright.

According to the affidavit, Center police arrived at the home, located on the 1200 block of Shelbyville Street, and saw Cartwright on the front porch holding 5-month-old Keilly Hoyt. EMS took Keilly to the Center hospital while police spoke to Cartwright.

The affidavit continues stating that Cartwright said she woke up with Keilly at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. She said she went to check on Keilly at 9:20 a.m., and saw her lying on her stomach in the bassinet.

EMS then called police and said the child had bruising which looked suspicious. An officer arrived at the hospital and saw the baby had a bruised left eye, multiple small puncture marks consistent with bite marks, signs of dehydration, and bruises all over her body.

The officer reported seeing a large bruised area on the back of the child in the buttock area and wounds on both sides of Keilly's buttocks, as well as bruises on the soles of her feet.

An X-ray showed Keilly had multiple broken bones, including both femurs, both forearms, both shoulders, and her jaw.

At the home, detectives searched the bedroom and found that the bassinet Keilly had been sleeping in appeared to have a vomit stain. The padding had some type of stain on it and was not covered by a fitted sheet. A detective found a fitted sheet in a pile of dirty clothes and saw a red stain on it which matched the stain on the padding. The detective also found several blankets and clothing which appeared to have blood stains.

Detectives later interviewed Cartwright, who admitted to losing her temper and picking up Keilly and shaking her, according to the affidavit. She also said she had picked Keilly up and forcibly threw her into the child safety seat in the living room, according to the affidavit. She also said she did not know how Keilly suffered the broken arms and legs. She did admit to biting Keilly on the feet, hitting her on the arms, slapping her in the mouth, and squeezing her shoulders together, according to the affidavit.

Officials removed three other children living in Cartwright's home. CPS spokesperson Sherri Pulliam said an 11-year-old girl, 9-year-old girl, and an 18-month-old boy also lived in the home on the 1200 block of Shelbyville Street. Pulliam said there has been no history of abuse reported to CPS before the incident with Keilly.

Refugio "Tonny" Jasso with the Dept. of Child Protective Services started the day with recalling the events on Jan. 17, 2013.

Jasso said he was with investigators at the Child Advocacy Center in Center when the visit was interrupted, so investigators could go do a second interview with Cartwright.

Dr. Edward Gripon, a psychiatrist next testified about the competency of Cartwright. He said that he performed an interview with Cartwright on Feb.1, 2013. Gripon said that the interview was to evaluate Cartwright's current mental state and any issues that may be present.

During his testimony, the psychiatrist said it is based off of talking and not any testing. Gripon said that he discussed with Cartwright that there is no confidential rights for the forensic interview he did on her.

Gripon recalled that within a week before he talked to Cartwright, she received an anti-depressant. He said that she never had any medications before that and that it is not uncommon for people in prison to become depressed. Gripon said that Cartwright in the early stages of treatment never showed any psychotic behavior.

"Depression, with no psychosis, does not affect the criminal behavior of a person," Gripon said.

Gripon continued and said that competency means that the defendant understands why they are on trial and that they can properly communicate with their defense attorney.

"In my opinion, she met those requirements and she was competent to stand trial," Gripon said.

Gripon said that just because a mother may kill her child that does not mean that they are not competent. The psychiatrist also said that she did not seem to show serious effects causing her to be transported to a mental health facility. Gripon also talked about her stoic behavior.

"When I interviewed her on Feb.1, the quiet, stoic behavior she was showing is what I find common in people who are depressed," Gripon said.

Gripon continued saying that in his interview he had to determine what Cartwright's behavior was two weeks earlier based on what she was acting like when he asked her questions.

"When I saw her on feb.1, she knew right from wrong," Cartwright said. "She showed no signs of psychotic  behavior. I found no evidence of a personality disorder."

Defense Attorney Rudy Velasquez asked Gripon how long the interview lasted.

"About 45 minutes," Gripon said.

Velasquez asked if Gripon interviewed a second person that day and Gripon agreed and said it was common to do multiple interviews in a day at a facility. Gripon agreed with Velasquez that Cartwright was very cooperative.

Velasquez asked if Gripon thought Cartwright was postpartum depressive. Gripon said that it is not considered its own disorder and is recognized as a major depressive disorder. Gripon did say that since she had just had Keilly, that it could be seen as a form of postpartum depression.

Gripon told Velasquez that he and Cartwright talked how she started to get depressed 13 years ago after her mother died. Cartwright also talked to Gripon about the medical issues of Keilly. Gripon agreed with Velasquez that the baby was in bad health.

Florence asked more details about the depression of Cartwright. Gripon said that Cartwright never said the depression was there for 13 years but would come and go.

Kenneth Balagot testified to a report he made at SIWFFS after examining DNA results on items.

"There were several stains," Balagot said. "There were stains from bed sheets, stains from a blanket. There were stains from the underwear and a swab from the underwear."

Balagot said he was able to obtain a positive match to Keilly Hoyt's DNA on the items. He also said that he was able to match DNA markers of Cartwright and the father, Ellis Hoyt to the swab of underwear. Balagot said that he did not find any DNA of Keilly Hoyt on this sample. Balagot said he is unsure what size the underwear was.  Balagot said that Cartwright was the major contributor of DNA, and Ellis was a minor contributor.

Balagot said the DNA found on the first stain on the bed sheet belonged to Keilly. The next stain had two contributors, with the major one being Keilly and the minor one being Cartwright. Balagot said the match for Keilly was a strong match on the item. Balagot said that the chance that it is Keilly's actual DNA is 1 in 201 billion people, which he argued is pretty accurate

"201 billion people would be 28 earths," Balagot said. "That means only one of those is her. It is a pretty accurate number."

Velasquez asked Balagot about the size of the samples, and the expert said he only had a small sample to work with on samples and did not get to see the entire samples. Balagot also told Velasquez that he does not test for the age of the items.

Balagot said he is not asked to confirm the exact DNA, but what he is asked to do is to examine the blood stains and to compare it to a known sample from that person

Elizabeth Ventura, a medical examiner for SWIFS, would testify to her findings after she examine the dead body of Keilly Hoyt on Jan.17, 2013.

"She appeared smaller then she should have been," Ventura said. "Just nutrition in general, with this baby being the weight she was and having body fat missing in certain areas shows that she was malnourished."

Ventura continued by saying the skin was "dry" and "scaly" and that in her opinion, Keilly suffered from dehydration.

"The child died from blunt force trauma and smothering," Ventura said. "[dehydration] would have had an effect in total. Any dehydration would add to the severity."

Ventura noticed scars on the body and said that, based on the equal spacing and look, she determined there was some sort of pattern of bruising done to the infant. She described an X-ray of interior injuries to which she said, "You can see a large amount of fractures."

Ventura would point to a facial X-ray.

"You can see dark discoloring to the skin," Ventura said.

The medical examiner point out that there was enough force applied to the area on the eye that it would cause tissue damage on top of the skin and beneath the skin.

In another picture of Keilly's lip, Ventura pointed out how there is a layer of tissue connecting the upper lip to the gum line. Ventura said that in the picture you can see that the tissue has been completely ripped. For that to happen, it meant Cartwright would have stuck something in the baby's mouth, the medical examiner said.

Ventura said that you can see hemorrhages to the fingertips which could be consistent to the biting that Florence has argued Cartwright did to Keilly.

During her testimony, the medical examiner continued to point out that the child had dehydration and abnormal abrasions in the feet of the baby.

"That would be consistent to someone biting down," Ventura said.

Ventura also testified that there were hemorrhages on the back of the child's neck. She said these spots were beneath the skin and could not be seen from the outside. Later, Ventura moved onto Keilly's ribs. Florence counted 17 fractures on the left rib cage. Ventura said the almost every rib was broken at least once and these are not visible without having to cut into the baby.

Ventura would move on to the bones that make up the lower arm and that there was obviously a fracture.

"Because a lot of the fractures were healing and she has fresh fractures, this was over time," Ventura said. "This would have not been one time. I would agree [that this was torture]."

Moving on to a discussion the baby's skull, Ventura said that when you get trauma like this to the head, it can be fatal.

"I saw three fractures to the skull," Ventura said.

Ventura pointed out that one of the fractures went through the complete thickness of the skull and went completely through the bone.

"It takes a lot of force to do that," Ventura said.

Ventura then moved on to another picture, explaining for the jury that you can see a fracture and separation in the spinal column.

Later, Ventura talked about the toxicology report.

"Sometimes when you have trauma to the brain, your brain cannot regulate your electrolyte level," Ventura said. "The infant had a low level of sodium, so it was possible the body was not generating enough sodium."

"My conclusion to the death was blunt force trauma and smothering," Ventura said. "We got a history that said the mouth or nose of the infant could have been covered so we added that. This infant with the injuries alone was enough to cause the death."

Ventura agreed with earlier testimony that Keilly's body could have just given up based on the injuries and dehydration.

Velasquez asked Ventura what the most severe injury was and if it could have caused smothering.

"The most severe injury was the trauma to the head," Venture said. "It would not have caused smothering."

Velasquez asked is she could prove Cartwright caused the injuries.

"I am not here to do that," Ventura said. "I am only here to examine the injuries."

The state rested their case around 2 p.m.

Marlon Cartwright is the first witness for the defense. Marlon is the father of Shakeitha.

Marlon recalled the last time he saw Keily the day before she died.

"[I stayed] a couple of hours," Marlon said. " She appeared normal."

Marlon said he first saw Cartwright at the hospital around noon.

"She was crying when I got there," Marlon said. Marlon also agreed with Valesquez that it seemed odd all of the officers said she was not crying, because she was when I got there.

Marlon said that he would go with his daughter to the police station and stay until 10 p.m.

"I went home, but she didn't" Marlon said. "They said they were charging her with murder."

Ellis Hoyt took the stand  next to talk about his relationship with Keily.

Hoyt said that he and Cartwright have been together for about 8 years. Hoyt said that he got to Cartwright's house the night before keily died around 9 p.m.

Velasquez showed Hoyt a picture of Keily and asked if he remembered if this is how she looked.

"I can't remember what she looked like," Hoyt said.

Hoyt continued and told Velasquez that he didn't remember a black eye that night. Hoyt also recalled the only injury there was one time, Keily was not moving her arm.

Hoyt remembered being at the hospital for a couple of hours before being asked to go to the police station. Hoyt also recalled the questioning.

"They asked me about Keily," Hoyt said. " It was nothing like yelling. They were just asking me what they were supposed to ask. They asked me about Shakeitha and what kind of mother she was."

Hoyt would go on to say that he never saw any injuries.

Velasquez will continue questioning on Tuesday. Court will be closed on Monday due to the MLK Holiday.

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