Testimony in the jury trial for the Lufkin man accused of brutally beating a 3-year-old boy to death in December 2010 got underway Tuesday morning.
The trial is being held in the 217th Judicial District Court.
Kerry Jock Woodard, 27, is accused of causing multiple injuries to the child, including a lacerated liver, a contusion on the lung, hemorrhages in the eyes and spinal cord, subdural hematomas of the brain, and more than 100 documented contusions and abrasions on the head, torso, legs, and arms.
It happened while Woodard was watching the child, Zikeishun Lane, while the mother was working. The child was originally treated for the injuries at a Lufkin hospital in December 2010, and he later died at a Houston hospital.
In his opening statements, prosecutor Art Bauereiss explained to jurors Woodard was dating the child's mother Valerie Mosby. The couple lived together and it had become a routine for them the take Zikeishun to Woodard's mother's house, after dropping of the child Woodward would take his girlfriend to work.
Bauereiss told jurors on December 6, 2010, Woodard's routine changed. At some point during the day, Woodard returned to his mother's home to pick up Zikeishun. Later that night, when Woodard picked up Mosby from work, Zikeishun was in the back seat. Upon returning to their shared residence, Woodard carried the boy inside while Mosby went inside.
Bauereiss explained to jurors that when Woodard brought the child into the house, he screamed, "He's not breathing." Zikeishun's mother tried CPR, but was unsuccessful. The couple then took the child to the Memorial Health System of East Texas ER.
After Zikeishun was revived, medical staff contacted Angelina County authorities because the severe bruising on his body made it clear he had been beaten.
According to the prosecutor, Woodard's story changed several times. When questioned, he first told authorities that he and the child's mother picked up the child. Then Woodard claimed he visited a friend in Nacogdoches and then came home to watch Monday Night Football. He changed his story again, saying he went to Nacogdoches to watch the football game, Bauereiss, said.
Mosby took the stand toward the end of Tuesday's testimony. She explained that Zikeishun, or Zi, was born on August 4, 2007 and that his biological father, Zachary Lane stayed involved in his son's life after the couple split up.
When asked what Zikeishun was like, Mosby said, "He was a big fan of video games. He liked football, playing with balls. he was very active and energetic."
Responding to questions from Bauereiss, Mosby said that she moved to Nacogdoches in early 2010, and that it was there that she met Woodard. During that time, she was working at the Nacogdoches Kroger and going to school at Angelina College. Mosby said that while she was away from home, Zikeishun stayed at day care facilities in Nacogdoches. She added there was never any indication of abuse from the day care providers or from the little boy's biological father.
Mosby said shortly after she moved in with Woodard at a trailer on FM 843 in Angelina County, Zikeishun's biological father took the boy back to San Augustine. When asked what precipitated the move, she said she had been notified by Child Protective Services that Woodard was a registered sex offender.
"Did that give you some concern?" Bauereiss asked.
"Yes, sir," Mosby said.
Then she admitted to staying with Woodard because she was "in love" with him. However, Mosby testified that she went to San Augustine and got her son back from his biological father in October 2010 and added, "I was needing my son."
Later that year, Mosby went to work for the Lufkin State-Supported Living Center, working the 2-10:30 p.m. shift. She said that she and Woodard were usually a one-vehicle family. Their normal routine was that she would get up around 10 and feed Zikeishun before she got ready. Then Woodard would usually drop her off at work and pick her up when she got off in the evening. Along the way, they would drop the boy off at Woodard's parent's home on Ramsey Road.
Mosby said that Mary Woodard would often keep several of Zikeishun's cousins as well. She said that she never had occasion to leave the state school to check up on Zikeishun. In addition, she said that when she was home, she tried to make sure that Woodard was never alone with her son.
"I would always be around," she said.
Mosby admitted that Woodard would often have Zikeishun in the car with him when he came to pick her up from work. She said that happened as often as four times a week. Normally, he would park in a certain place and have rap music blaring from the car's stereo.
"Why did you stay with him after the CPS warned you about him?" Bauereiss asked.
"I was scared at the time, controlled," Mosby said.
The routine changed on Dec. 6, 2010. Mosby said that she was struck by the fact that Woodard didn't park in his usual spot, and there was no audible music.
When Mosby went out the car, Zikeishun looked asleep to her. She testified that she didn't try to hug or kiss the little boy and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Upon getting home, Mosby went inside without taking her son out of the car because she had a toothache. She said Woodard brought Zikeishun in that day, and she went straight to her pre bedtime grooming routine - cleaning up and taking a bath.
Not long after she started taking a bath, Woodard came in and told her that she needed to do CPR on Zikeishun, saying, "He's not breathing."
"How'd that make you feel?" Bauereiss asked.
"Straight shock," Mosby said. "I went straight to him and called his name, and he was unresponsive."
After Mosby got dressed, she and Woodard rushed Zikeishun to the Memorial Health System of East Texas ER. She said that, at the time, she didn't see any signs of bruising or injury on her son's body.
When asked if anything else about that day seemed odd, Mosby said that Woodard called her at work and said that he was going to pick Zikeishun up from his parents' house a little early to make it easier when it came time for him to pick her up from work.
Mosby said she only heard "bits and pieces" of Zikeishun's condition from the doctors at Memorial. She didn't realize just how serious things were until they told her they were going to life-flight her son to a Houston hospital.
"I knew that it had to be pretty bad," Mosby said.
Later that evening, Woodard drove Mosby to the Angelina County Sheriff's Office. She testified that along the way, he told her, "I'm a registered sex offender, and I can't be around kids." Then he allegedly told Mosby that she needed to tell investigators that she had been the one driving.
"What did you think about that?" Bauereiss asked.
"At the time, I was scared, so I did it," Mosby said.
The next morning, on the drive down to Houston, Woodard and Mosby discussed possible scenarios for what might have caused Zikeishun's injuries. At one point, Woodard allegedly said, "What if he fell?"
At the Houston hospital she went into a private room with Zikeishun's biological father, and the doctor told them that the boy probably wasn't going to make it. Woodard wasn't in on the meeting with the doctors, Mosby said.
When asked if Zikeishun looked any different the last time she saw him, Mosby said, "He was just laying unconscious. He had a mark under his eye, and I saw a few bruises on his stomach. I saw a few scratches on his head and his arms."
After Mosby said her goodbyes to her son, she agreed to allow Zikeishun to be an organ donor. At that point, doctors took the 3-year-old off life support.
Later Bauereiss asked Mosby if she inflicted the injuries on her son. "No, sir," she replied.
Under questioning from the prosecutor, Mosby said that when she disciplined her son, she would "spank him, tap him on the hand, talk to him."
Bauereiss then asked if Mosby had ever seen Woodard discipline Zikeishun. She replied that her ex-boyfriend would "just swat him down, hit him." Later, she admitted that Woodard didn't like the fact that Zikeishun whined too much. She also said he took exception to the amount of time she spent with her son.
"He would say, 'Don't baby him," Mosby said.
Later, Mosby admitted to lying to Angelina County Sheriff's Office deputies and special investigators with the CPS. She said that she lied about picking Zikeishun up at Mary Woodard's house on Dec. 6, 2010 and when she told one of the investigators that she threw her son against her couch because she was frustrated with him.
Toward the end of Tuesday's testimony, Bauereiss played a recording of a cell phone conversation that Mosby had with Woodard in January 2011. At the time, she was using a prepaid cell phone and a digital recording device that had been provided to her by Davey Hill, who had been working as an ACSO investigator at that time.
On the recording, Woodard said that "everyone" was saying he killed Zikeishun, and said he was trying to figure it out as well.
"They're trying to put it on me," he said on the recording.
During the long, rambling conversation filled with vulgarities, Mosby tried several times to get Woodard to explain what happened to her son. At one point in the conversation, Mosby said, "Do you understand my baby died? My baby is dead."
On the recording, Woodard said investigators tried to tell him that Mosby hurt Zikeishun and that he defended her. "Nobody beat that baby or nothin,'" Woodward said on the recording. "It was an accident. I'm still (expletive) up, messed up. Later, Woodard suggested that Zikeishun fell off a "damn tricycle."
Bauereiss also entered a text conversation between Woodard and Mosby into evidence. The text conversation also took place on the sheriff's office prepaid phone. In it, Woodard accused Mosby of working with law enforcement to "get him," and told her that he still loved her.
Toward the end of his questioning of Mosby, Bauereiss asked her, "Did you ever think that you should step back, that 'my baby's in danger?'" In a quiet voice, Mosby replied, "Yes, sir."
During his cross examination, defense attorney Al Charanza got Mosby to admit that Zachary Lane had taken her son away and that he had called CPS with allegations that Woodard was sexually abusing Zikeishun. Testimony by two CPS special investigators said those accusations were later "ruled out."
"How is it that you would let Zachary take your child?" Charanza asked Mosby.
The defense attorney also pointed out there was a seven-month period where she rarely ever saw her son because she was living with Woodard. Mosby replied that she called the child support authorities several times during that time.
"Weren't you concerned about your son?" Charanza responded.
The first witness to take the stand was ER physician Jerry Jenkins, who worked to revive Zikeishun in the trauma room. Jenkins said ER physicians gave the child a breathing tube because he wasn't able to breathe on his own. The ER physician said doctors ultimately resorted to using pace makers pads because they couldn't restart the boy's heart.
"We put pace maker pads on his chest, and we just dialed up the gain of the electrical current that we tried to use to jump start the heart," Jenkins said.
When the child was revived, Jenkins described him as pale. He added that multiple bruises became visible.
"I was struck with the number of bruises that showed up; we didn't see those initially because his blood pressure was so low," Jenkins said.
"The magnitude of the bruising was remarkable," Jenkins continued.
Jenkins says the physicians were obligated to notify the authorities because it appeared the child had suffered abuse.
The prosecution showed jurors pictures of the child's body, after he had been revived at the hospital. Jenkins explained the bruises that were located on his arms, legs, and back. In addition Zikeishun had some severe bruising around his face and head.
Lufkin Police officer, Clay Van Eman testified that he was called to Memorial about an "unresponsive child." He said that the child was severely bruised, and that Woodard appeared calm when he talked to the man about what had happened.
"It was not something that a normal child could have done to himself playing or falling," Van Enman said.
ACSO deputy B.J Murphy said he was in disbelief when he saw Zikeishun's bruised body. He also testified that Woodard's demeanor didn't fit the situation.
"It seemed like Kerry didn't have a care in the world it didn't appear that it bothered him that she was even upset,"Murphy said.
In contrast, Mosby seemed "completely distraught" and "hysterical" at the sight of her three-year-old son with severe trauma and lying in a hospital bed with "tubes down his throat," Murphy said.
Davey Hill, an ACSO patrol sergeant, was working as an investigator in December 2010. On the stand, he backed up Murphy's assertion that Mosby was distraught and hysterical.
At first, Woodard told Hill that Mosby had dropped Zikeishun off at his parents' house, and that he stayed home all day. Hill testified that Woodard's first version of the story was that his ex-girlfriend returned home with the little boy at about 11 p.m. on Dc. 6, 2010.
Although Woodard was cooperative, he was also being evasive during his oral statement, Hill said. He later testified that he was aware that CPS was conducting a parallel investigation on Woodard.
"He said he wasn't allowed at his parents' house because of his past criminal record," Hill said. "He rambled and went off subject and he told me he was a registered sex offender and couldn't be around children."
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