|Brenda Jean Caringer (mug shot GCSO)|
Jury selection is scheduled to begin tomorrow in the murder trial of a woman from Willard accused of killing an infant she was babysitting.
Brenda Jean Caringer, 55, is charged with alternative counts of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death for the January 6, 2009, death of 9 month-old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett.
In the probable cause statement filed with the charges, Caringer told Willard Police Sgt. Shannon Shipley that when the little boy arrived at her home at 12:45 p.m., he was fussy and that she had laid him down in a portable crib because she could not console him.
Caringer also stated that she laid the infant on the floor in the living room and went into the kitchen to fix him a bottle. She says when she returned she found the little boy standing next to the coffee table and that he fell, bumped his head and "fell straight backwards."
Caringer told investigators that she attempted to give the little boy a bottle but, "he would not sit up straight." She goes on to say that Lucas stopped screaming and, "went limp."
In a verbal statement with cops, Caringer stated that she took the baby to a chair to change his diaper and that his cry, "changed to a whimper, his back arched, and his hands curled up."
It was at that point that Caringer said she picked the little boy up, "shook him and blew in his face to get him to breathe."
When paramedics arrived on the scene they found little Lucas lying on the floor with only the blue striped hoodie he arrived in on his body......his diaper and socks lay nearby.
Officer Fly states in the probable cause statement that when he arrived at the scene there were no diaper wipes in the area where Caringer claims she was changing little Lucas' diaper.
Lucas' bottle was found lying on the floor next to the chair where his little body was found. The bottle appeared to have a "red substance consistent with blood on the nipple and nipple ring."
Later forensic analysis determined that it was indeed blood on the little boys bottle.
An autopsy determined that the cause of Lucas' death were, "abusive head injuries," that are consistent with a crushed skull, and signs of bleeding on the brain.
The doctor that performed the autopsy said that the injuries were predominately to the right side of Lucas' head, and that the infliction of the injuries were not more than two hours old.
In his estimation, he believes that the fatal injuries probably occurred about thirty minutes before Caringer called for help for the baby, and that he would have "been symptomatic immediately."
Prosecutor Darrell Moore filed both second degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in death charges to cover all aspects of this case.
The charges were filed alternatively, meaning jurors can find Caringer guilty of either crime .....or neither.
For the murder charge they will have to prove that Caringer set out to cause Lucas' death; on the charges of child abuse resulting in death they will have to prove that the fatal injuries that killed little Lucas occurred while he was in Caringer's care.
Moore says that in child abuse cases that result in death, he gives the jury two different charges and lets them decide which one fits the crime.
The range of punishment on either charge is 10-30 years in prison.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Caringer by the Lucas' parents, Amanda Theede and Sean Bennett, is making it's way through the court system.