By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — After almost 2 hours of deliberation, a jury found Jammy Stacy guilty of child neglect in a case concerning a two-year-old child who suffered life-threatening injuries while in her care.
Sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31. Stacy was remanded into the custody of the Kosciusko County Jail after the trial adjourned.
Stacy, 43, Elkhart, could face up to 16 years in prison. The advisory sentence is nine years.
The state concluded its case with testimony from Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Detective Josh Spangle, who assisted in investigating the incident. Photos of Stacy’s fridge and freezer areas were both submitted as evidence. The fridge and freezer were both well-stocked with food.
In cross-examination, Defense Attorney Mari Duerring asked Spangle about text messages between Stacy and Rune Springer, the biological mother of the victim in the case. The conversation regarded Stacy bringing the boy back to live with Springer. One of the text messages to Springer from Stacy read, “You need to prepare yourself for this. It’s really bad.”
Defense then began its case by calling Kimberley Stahley for testimony. Stahley and Stacy used to both reside in an Etna Green mobile home park, where they became friends.
In her testimony, Stahley said she would go to Stacy’s residence about three times a week and first met the boy in shortly after he was born. Stahley also said two women in the mobile home park took care of the boy when he was younger.
Stahley was asked about an injury the boy sustained to the back of his head while in Stacy’s care. Springer and Travis Tillotson, the boy’s mother and stepfather, were present when the boy fell off a slide and hit the back of his head. Stacy told Springer that the injury looked bad and that she should take him to the emergency room; however, Springer said it was only a scratch.
When she learned the boy would be taken by Stacy to live with Springer, Stahley went to Stacy’s home to say her goodbyes.
“He ran up to me and gave me a big hug,” said Stahley regarding the boy’s condition. “He was dressed very nicely.”
Stahley said at that time, the boy had a bandage across his nose and lip. Stacy later moved out of the mobile home park sometime between March and April 2018.
In cross-examination, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Buehler asked if Stahley would describe a child with a broken pelvis, broken ribs and brain bleeding as “well taken care of,” to which Stahley responded, “What are you talking about?”
Multiple photos of the child and his injuries were presented to Stahley. All of the pictures were from the day after Stahley last saw him.
“That’s not (the boy),” said Stahley.
Through a juror question, Stahley was asked if she ever saw the boy refuse to eat while he was at Stacy’s home. Stahley said she did not.
Deb Bailey, Stacy’s aunt and former neighbor, also testified on Stacy’s behalf. Bailey said the boy would be at Stacy’s residence off and on until he started staying there permanently. In her testimony, Bailey said Springer would occasionally come to the residence to get the boy.
“He would be a different little guy,” said Bailey about the boy returning from Springer’s residence. “It would take Jammy a couple days to bring him back.”
Stacy told Bailey the boy would hit himself and that she wanted Springer and Tillotson to “get him some help.”
Bailey also said she never had concerns about the boy being in Stacy’s care.
In cross-examination, Buehler asked Bailey about text messages she sent to Stacy early in the morning on March 3, 2018. In the texts, Stacy told Bailey “(the boy’s) mom called the cops on me.” Bailey then responded with “Jammy stay quiet.”
Stacy did not testify in court. Defense also rested its case this morning.
In closing arguments, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz showed the jury the progression of the boy’s condition via pictures.
“He was thin and walked around in a daze,” said Voelz. “She told us that he hurt himself, that he tried to bite and stab her. She told us that his injuries didn’t heal for four months.”
Voelz focused on a video from Stacy’s phone used as evidence during the trial. In the video, the boy struggles to raise his arms up to take off a winter jacket.
“She berated him for it,” said Voelz about the video. “She called him a zombie while forcing him to walk laps in a tiny pen. Jammy Stacy documented, recorded and admitted to knowing all about these things. (The boy) was passed around the trailer park like a stray cat and needlessly suffered in the five months he was in Jammy’s care.”
Voelz also said Bailey lied to police officers and admitted she told Stacy to keep quiet.
“She lied under oath,” said Voelz. “This is the witness she (Stacy) gave you in her defense. Instead of taking care of (the boy), she looked for an easy way out. To avoid blame, she took him back to the person who dumped him in the first place. She knew that she would be blamed. She deprived him of proper food, a safe home, basic medical care, compassion and love.”
To conclude, Voelz focused on Stacy saying she didn’t hurt the child in a video interview with police.
“She’s wrong,” said Voelz. “She did hurt him every single day.”
Duerring focused on legal concepts and obligations within her closing argument and asked the jury to focus on the definitions of “knowingly” and “intentionally.” She also said Stacy contacted a Goshen attorney regarding the boy’s condition; the attorney told Stacy she did not have the legal authority to take the boy in for treatment.
“We don’t know who broke his arms and who injured him,” said Duerring. “We don’t know. There were multiple people who had (the boy) in their care. If we don’t know where the injuries came from, how can we presume Jammy knew the extent of what was wrong with (the boy)?”
Duerring questioned why officers didn’t investigate Springer’s home and said Stacy filmed the videos of the boy to help collect information so the boy could receive assistance.
“We’re not here to cast moral judgment,” said Duerring regarding Stacy’s demeanor in the videos. “This isn’t a decision based on emotion.”
Duerring also argued the state did not provide enough evidence to sustain a neglect of a dependent charge and that the boy was not at substantial risk of death.
In closing, Voelz referred to the victim as “the boy who lived.”
“The videos tell you the story,” said Voelz. “The videos show a terribly mistreated, unloved little boy. My theory is she should have cared for him. And this trial…it’s not about Rune. All before now, she tried to blame (the boy). How dare she come into court today and blame Rune.”
Stacy’s mother, Annette Priestley, 60, White Pigeon, Mich.; and Stacy’s aunt, Fayette Robinette, 60, Etna Green, are also co-defendants in this matter. Priestley has a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17. Robinette has a two-day jury trial in this case at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 13.