By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Twelve jury members and two alternates were selected Tuesday, Aug. 4, on the first day of what is expected to be a three-day trial for the sole caregiver of a child who suffered life-threatening injuries.
Jammy Stacy, 43, 611 E. Carlton Ave., Elkhart, is charged with neglect of a dependent, a level 3 felony.
If found guilty, Stacy could face up to 16 years in prison. The advisory sentence is nine years.
Stacy’s attorney is Mari Duerring, South Bend. Representing the state is Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz.
Court documents state that on March 2, 2018, Nappanee Police responded to a report of a child in need of service at 1200 N. Main St. Apartment 103, Nappanee. At that address, officers discovered a boy who was injured and in need of medical attention.
Rune Springer, the child’s mother who lived at the Nappanee address, said she did not cause the injuries to the child, as he had been in Stacy’s care.
One day earlier, Stacy and her mother, Annette Priestley, dropped the child off at Springer’s residence with visible injuries all over his body. The child was then taken to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne for treatment. Medical staff said the child had visible injuries in many stages of healing, showing injuries occurring over an extended time period.
The child had multiple pieces of his scalp missing, ranging from 1/2 inch to 2 inches. His septum on his nose had been cut out, and what appeared to be fingernail marks were dug into his left cheek and scabbed over. Both of the child’s arms were broken in multiple places and his arm sockets were broken to the point where the child was unable to raise his hands over his shoulders.
His teeth were broken from trauma and his lower lip had been cut deep. The child was also underweight and malnourished. His injuries appeared to range from several months old to a few days old.
According to court documents, officers spoke with Dr. Jayesh Patel, who said the child’s injuries were life-threatening and not accidental in nature. Dr. Patel said if the child didn’t receive treatment at that point, he would have died within 48 hours.
The broken bones in the child’s arms appeared to be less than six months old. His head injuries caused bleeding on the brain.
In October 2017, Springer had taken the child to Stacy to live with her. Stacy said she was the sole caregiver for the child from October 2017 until March 1, 2018. She said the child would spend the night occasionally with her aunt, Fayette Robinette. Stacy said she knew she should have gotten the child medical attention for his injuries and would have if the injuries would have been to her own son.
Stacy also gave consent for officers to search her phone. They discovered photographs of the child, proving that his injuries occurred in the time period where Stacy was the sole caregiver. The timestamps also show that Robinette and Priestley would have had contact with the child in the time his injuries were visible and took no action to seek medical help for the child.
Robinette and Priestley are co-defendants in this matter, with their cases still pending.
Jury selection started this morning in Kosciusko Superior Court One, with Judge David Cates presiding. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, potential jurors were brought over from the Kosciusko County Purdue Extension office to the Kosciusko County Justice Building. During the selection process, the courtroom and office were connected via video conferencing. All potential jurors also wore masks.
During voir dire, where potential jurors are asked questions by the judge and lawyers, Voelz asked how jurors felt about a case involving a young child, as well as graphic photos that might create specific emotions.
Duerring asked potential jurors about legal concepts such as presumption of innocence and burden of proof, requesting they explain what the concepts mean to them. She also questioned jurors on if they felt written authorization is required from a child’s parent to take a child to a hospital if needed.
A full jury was selected at approximately 1:30 p.m. today. Seven men and five women are seated on the jury. One man and one woman sit as alternates.
In his opening statement to the court, Voelz began by showing the jury a picture of the victim in this case. The picture was taken in late September 2017, prior to the child being left in Stacy’s care.
Voelz said Stacy voluntarily accepted the child and took him to live with her and her son in Etna Green for five months. He then showed the jury a picture of the child five months after the first picture was taken.
“He was entrusted to Jammy Stacy,” said Voelz. “He called her ‘mommy.’ He trusted her and she betrayed him. Jammy kept (the child) almost exclusively with her that entire time he was in her care. He wasted and withered away while she did nothing.”
Voelz also mentioned that when officers went to Stacy’s residence in Etna Green to ask about the incident, they received no answer at the door after several minutes of knocking, even though Stacy was supposedly at the residence at that time.
“One person, Jammy Stacy, knew all along about (the child’s) disturbing and ghastly condition. And she did nothing. She only cared for herself and didn’t give a damn about this child.”
Duerring focused her opening statement on the various people who were involved in caring for the child. She also said Stacy reached out several times to Springer about the child’s condition.
“Jammy contends that when she dropped him off to Rune, he was okay,” said Duerring. “Did she commit a criminal act by taking the child to the mother’s home to get medical care?”
Duerring also argued that Stacy had no legal documentation or paperwork from the child’s parents in order to get him help.
The state’s first witness called for testimony was Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Detective Josh Spangle, who assisted in investigating the incident.
He said that when asking Stacy about her relationship with the child, she referred to herself as “mommy.”
Nappanee Police Officer Dan Hawkins was the state’s second witness. Hawkins was one of the officers who went to Springer’s residence on March 2, 2018. Upon arrival, Hawkins said he saw the child wrapped in a blanket on a couch. When asked to describe the child’s injuries, Hawkins said the child had multiple abrasions and cuts on his face.
“The young man couldn’t even sit up by himself,” said Hawkins. “He was in a bad way.”
Three pictures of the child, two from Springer’s apartment and one from the hospital, were admitted as evidence.
In cross-examination, Duerring asked Hawkins about the overall condition of Springer’s apartment. Hawkins described the apartment’s condition as “bad,” saying that it smelled of animal urine and that there was a large pile of trash in a corner and unclean dishes. She also asked Hawkins if Springer’s apartment was searched for a knife or blood, inquiring as to why the scene was not investigated as a crime scene.
Hawkins said the age of the boy’s injuries were obvious and that the scene was not searched by the Nappanee Police Department.
The trial will continue at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, in Kosciusko Superior Court One.