By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Seven witnesses testified in the second day of a jury trial for Jammy Stacy, the sole caregiver of a child who suffered life-threatening injuries.
Stacy, 43, Elkhart, is charged with neglect of a dependent, a level 3 felony.
The state continued its case on Wednesday, Aug. 5, by calling seven witnesses, the first of which was Tara Rice, a registered nurse at Parkview Regional Medical Center, Fort Wayne. She assisted in giving the child medical treatment while he was at the hospital.
The boy spent one week in treatment in Fort Wayne and was described by Rice as “severely malnourished and thin.” Rice also said he had a large injury to the back of his head and that the main course of treatment for the boy focused on his intake and his iron deficiency. Upon arrival at the hospital, Rice said his teeth were rotten and his hair was very thin.
Rice also discussed the boy’s personality, stating that the hospital staff had to help him understand kindness.
“He had this fear that people would hurt him,” said Rice.
The boy was discharged from the hospital on March 9, 2018. A picture of him on the day of discharge was submitted as evidence. He was shown in a toy car with a smile on his face; a large injury to his nose and lip in the process of healing remained.
Dr. Jayesh Patel, who works in pediatric intensive care at Parkview Regional Medical Center, also testified. He was a physician who helped treat the boy during his time in Fort Wayne. When asked to describe the boy’s condition, Patel said he “sustained multiple injuries…almost from head to toe” and had “multiple bone injuries.” He described the boy’s overall demeanor as withdrawn and unresponsive.
Multiple pictures of the boy’s injuries were submitted as evidence, including a facial injury where part of the boy’s nose was destroyed. Patel said the boy had healing fractures in his shoulder areas, as well as two fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis and multiple fractures to his fingers.
In regards to the boy’s malnourishment, Patel said the boy weighed as much as a one-year-old. The boy was 2 years and 8 months old at the time of admittance. Patel also noted the boy had thin hair growing on his cheek area, saying that when the skin becomes too fragile, hair starts to grow.
In court, Patel said it is possible that the boy suffered from chronic malnutrition for months and that some of the boy’s injuries he sustained will result in permanent disfigurement. Patel described the boy’s injuries as one of the worst cases he’s ever seen.
Through cross-examination, Defense Attorney Mari Duerring asked Patel several questions about factors related to the boy’s physical health. Patel said the boy’s heart rate was regular and had not been affected by malnutrition, and that no extreme life-saving measures were put into place. Patel also said it would be difficult to know if the boy’s nasal injury was caused by a sharp object. From the time the boy was presented to the hospital’s staff, the boy did not have any seizures and no casts were needed to set the child’s bones.
The state’s third witness was Deb Pennington, a Department of Child Services worker who was involved in the child’s case. Pennington saw the child at Parkview hospitals in both Warsaw and Fort Wayne. A video of Pennington visiting the child was submitted as evidence. In the video, the child is seen wrapped in a blanket and heard occasionally screaming when touched by hospital staff.
Pennington said the boy was admitted into DCS custody on March 3, 2018.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kevin Gelbaugh was next to testify. Gelbaugh is one of the lead detectives in investigating the case. In his testimony, Gelbaugh said he and other officers went to Stacy’s Etna Green residence to make contact with her on March 3, 2018. After several minutes of knocking at the residence’s front door, officers left and obtained a search warrant for the home.
Officers later collected items in the home that they took in for forensic testing; however, none of the boy’s blood or DNA were located on any of the items.
On March 5, 2018, Gelbaugh interviewed Stacy at the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office. For several months, the boy resided with Stacy and her young son at an Etna Green home.
The video interview was played for the jury. When asked what the boy was like when she first took him into her care in October 2017, Stacy said he was really thin and acting strange. She also recalled an incident where the boy bit her and said he would sometimes pull his hair out, beat his head against walls and pound his fists against himself.
In regards to his nose injury, Stacy said the injury occurred in February 2018 after he fell.
Through cross-examination, Duerring asked Gelbaugh if anyone went to the Nappanee residence where Rune Springer, the boy’s biological mother, lived. Gelbaugh said no one did and that a search warrant for Springer’s home was not obtained. Gelbaugh also affirmed that several of Stacy’s neighbors discussed concerns related to Rune Springer with him.
Dr. Shannon Thompson, a Riley Children’s Hospital pediatrician, also testified. Thompson consulted with Patel regarding the boy’s condition. The boy was later brought to Riley’s for treatment. In court, Thompson extensively described the boy’s injuries and how she believed they were consistent with child abuse.
Thompson said that when a child suffers a brain injury, a change of behavior is typically seen. When asked by Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz if this behavior could be “zombie-like,” Thompson affirmed that as an accurate description.
“This is probably one of my worse cases I’ve seen because of the ongoing nature of what appears to be torture to this child,” said Thompson.
Duerring asked Thompson if there was any required surgical intervention for the boy’s brain injury. Thompson said there was not and that no feeding tube was necessary to aid in fixing the boy’s malnutrition.
KCSO Detective Josh Spangle, who assisted in investigating the incident, was called back to the stand for further testimony. During the course of the investigation, Spangle said he searched Stacy’s phone and found several pictures and videos of the boy. A picture from Aug. 28, 2017, shows the boy smiling; a picture from December 2017 shows the boy with a severe nose injury.
The videos from Stacy’s phone were submitted as evidence. One of the videos, taken on Dec. 14, 2017, shows the boy in a winter jacket. In the video, Stacy asks the child multiple times to raise his arms up and take his jacket off. However, the boy barely raises his arms and cries, not removing his jacket.
Two videos from Dec. 31, 2017, were also played. Both videos were filmed at approximately 10 p.m. In the videos, the boy is shown slowly pacing back and forth in between two baby gates. At one point, Stacy is heard stomping her foot and saying, “Do not go to sleep.” Stacy is also heard describing the child as “having three personalities.”
A video from Jan. 30, 2018, shows the boy with a dirtied and battered face.
“He acts like he can’t even walk,” said Stacy. ‘I’m going to show these people who you are.”
The final witness of today’s proceedings was Nappanee Police Officer Tony Schmucker. Schmucker and several police officers are still in contact with the boy to this day. According to Schmucker, officers visit him for birthdays and occasionally help babysit. The boy is adopted and living with his adoptive mother.
When asked to describe the boy’s current condition, Schmucker said he has difficulty lifting his arms above his shoulders and that his gait is a little off. His lip and nose are also still malformed.
“He is all boy,” said Schmucker when asked to describe the child’s demeanor. “He loves to play and be outside. He’s a good kid.”
The trial will continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, in Kosciusko Superior Court One.