The trial for an Allport woman charged with criminal homicide in connection with death of a 2-year-old girl began Monday in Clearfield County Court.
Jennifer Ann Medzie, 22, is also charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Medzie was living with the child’s father, Cody Lauder, and caring for the child when the child became unresponsive at their home in Bradford Township on Nov. 15, 2013.
The first witness, Lauder, 25, said he asked Medzie to move in with him a few months after they started dating. He said the child was sleeping and breathing normally when he checked on her that morning before leaving for work. Later he called Medzie, who told him that the girl had fainted. The child was taken to the Clearfield Hospital and was then flown by medical helicopter to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where she was declared brain dead, and later died.
A doctor determined the child was the victim of abusive head trauma, according to court records. The autopsy doctor in his report said she died of global hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy resulting from blunt force trauma of the head.
The night before the incident, Lauder said the couple reportedly got into a fight during which Medzie complained that the baby “always cried for her” and would never listen to her. Medzie then allegedly told Lauder he had to choose her or the child.
“I was not going to be separated from my kid,” he said during the trial, adding that he thought Medzie wanted him to give the child to his parents.
Prior to Medzie moving in with him, Lauder’s father and stepmother did care for the child while he was at work, he said.
Lauder testified that while his parents had the child the evening of Nov. 14, 2013, she became sick and vomited twice. They contacted him and he and Medzie took the child to the emergency room at DuBois Hospital. The doctors said it was the flu, told them to keep her hydrated and sent them home.
When District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. asked about the toddler’s heath, Lauder stated that she was not well. They had taken her to the doctor previously because her hair was falling out and she had “raccoon eyes.”
During his cross-examination, attorney Robert Donaldson, who is representing Medzie, asked when the two moved in together. Lauder said it was in August or September while she was still in high school. Lauder said her parents were against her moving in with him but she did and signed up to finish school online.
The two broke up after Lauder got information from the doctor on what happened to the child. He said he had the nurses escort Medzie out of the hospital.
Krisandra Evans, 24, testified that she was living with Lauder’s brother, Brandon, a short distance away in Nov. 2013. She got a phone call from Medzie saying she needed her to come to their place because Medzie said the baby “fell asleep” in her arms while she was dressing her. She said it was an emergency. When Evans arrived, she said that the child was breathing but did not look normal.
Medzie told her she tried to call an ambulance but they weren’t answering. Evans then emotionally recalled how she called Lauder’s stepmother, Brandi Lauder, and told her the baby was not waking up.
“We needed an adult,” and someone to tell us what to do, she said.
The commonwealth put into evidence Facebook messages from Medzie to Evans. One said, “I’m sick and tired of watching her,” and “I’m going to end up hurting her.”
Brandi Lauder later testified that Medzie called her that morning to tell her that the child fell asleep as she was dressing her. Because the girl had been sick the night before, Brandi Lauder told her to let her sleep for awhile and she would be over to Medzie’s home later to check on her. About a half-hour later, Evans called saying something was wrong because the girl wouldn’t wake up.
When Brandi Lauder arrived, she said it took “two seconds” to see that something was wrong. It was 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived, she said, but it seemed “like hours.”
Brandi Lauder was asked about the child’s health. She recounted the same events with the child being ill the previous day. She also noted that for about six weeks, since Medzie was watching her, the child was not herself. She said the child had bruises on her face, black circles under her eyes and her hair was falling out in clumps. They were planning on making an appointment with a specialist to determine if she had an autoimmune disease.
Mary Jane McGuiness, a now-retired state police trooper, testified that Medzie told authorities that as she tried to dress the child that day, the child fainted or “died in her arms.”McGuiness said Medzie kept telling her that everything was “normal.” When she asked if the child had hit her head, Medzie said she had no injuries.
She consistently stated the same thing about the events of that morning, McGuiness said, but did admit to being frustrated by the child and shaking her.
Trooper Kimberly Ronan testified that she interviewed Medzie several times. Medzie admitted to her that she shook the baby twice in October.
According to Medzie’s account of that morning, she was able to have a conversation with the child before she went limp. Ronan asked her if the baby fell or hit her head and Medzie said no.
But in an interview in August 2016, after she was incarcerated for these alleged crimes, Medzie said she was changing the girl’s diaper while she was lying partially under a table. She said when she lifted the baby up, she hit her head and then the baby went limp, Ronan stated.
Testimony will continue with medical experts on Tuesday, after which Medzie is expected to testify in her own defense.