LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man accused in the death of a three-year-old boy took the stand Friday, saying he never abused the boy.
Also Friday, District Judge Barry Bryan reduced the charge against Kerry Jock Woodard, 29, from capital murder to first-degree murder.
Woodard 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.
During testimony Friday, defense attorney Al Charanza asked Woodard why he and Valerie Mosby did not go to the Houston hospital when Zikeishun was life-flighted there.
"Valerie didn't want to go to Houston," Woodard stated. He said Valerie got off work around 10:30 p.m. and was too tired to make the trip.
"I told her we need to go right now. She said, 'I needed some rest'. I let her get some rest," Woodard said.
When the couple drove to Houston the next morning Woodard said he was not allowed to visit his girlfriend's son in the hospital.
"I couldn't see the baby. There was some guy trying to interrogate me. They were trying to tell me to leave. I said, 'I'm not going to leave my girlfriend up here.' They said, 'you're a sex offender so you gotta leave.' My feelings were hurt," Woodard said.
He then told the jury he had his friend pick him up from the hospital.
Charanza then asked Woodard what the car ride to Houston was like with Mosby.
"She was crying and upset," Woodard explained.
"I said, 'Valerie, do you think I did anything to your baby?' She said, 'I don't think you would do nothing like that,'" Woodard said.
Charanza asked Woodard if he noticed anything wrong with Zikeishun in days leading up to his death.
"We told her to take him to the doctor," Woodard said, referring to advice his sister gave him.
"Valerie said she ain't got Medicaid. I used to get on to Valerie about the way she used to treat her son. She said, "We'll wait till he gets his Medicaid. He was sick; he said his head was hurting. I was thinking the way he walked, he was clumsy. He hit his head a couple of times," Woodard explained.
Charanza asked if Woodard ever saw bruises on Zikeishun.
"Yes sir," Woodard said.
Woodard said he saw Valerie discipline her son with a belt.
"Valerie got aggravated, hot tempered. Valerie would get very upset, that's why I stayed on her because some stuff, she would overdue it," Woodard told the jury.
"Did you ever discipline Zy?" Charanza asked.
"Yes, sir. I didn't discipline Zy like whoop him," Woodard said. He added that he would "tap him" because he respected Zy's biological father.
"It's not my son, but I loved him like he was. I would tap him like that because he was talking back to his mother; I tried to teach him that was wrong. My discipline was little taps, little pops; it wasn't bruising him or nothing like that," Woodard said.
Woodard said he never injured Zy, but maybe some of the injuries came from him falling or playing rough with friends.
Charanza showed Woodard a picture of his front porch that had a few steps leading up to the front door.
"Is it true testimony that you saw Zy fall off this porch?" Charanza asked.
"Yes, sir. He fell down on his side. He fell on his side another time. I don't know if it's balanced; he walked like he was scared. I don't know if he was clumsy, but he had fell back. There was a hole right here and he had came in and he don't pay attention when he walked, he was only three," Woodard said as he pointed to the picture. "He tripped in the hole and fell right there. Valerie picked him up by the arm; he was crying," Woodard added.
While Woodard was on the stand he talked about the relationship he had with Zy's mother.
He told Charanza when he met Valerie a few years ago, he told her he was a registered sex offender.
"I told her I've been convicted of having sex with an underage girl; she was fine with it," Woodard said.
As the relationship progressed, Woodard said Valerie and her son Zy moved into his residence in Lufkin.
"Me and Valerie had a good relationship, but it started going like downhill. I said, "why don't you just go on and leave. It was so much stuff; CPS coming to my house accusing me of stuff that I didn't, so I told her to go on and leave," Woodard said.
Woodard explained that despite their relationship problems, Valerie did not move out and Child Protective Services continued to make visits to the house.
He said on one visit, CPS asked he and Valerie about domestic abuse and cocaine use.
"I don't even know what cocaine is," Woodard told the jury.
When questioned in more detail about his relationship with Valerie he explained that they just "played rough."
Charanza took Woodard back to December 6, 2010, the night the couple took Zy to a Lufkin hospital.
Woodard said the couple picked the child up from his mother's house, where he often stayed. Woodard said he noticed Zy looked ill.
Woodard said when they got home he noticed Zy wasn't breathing.
"He wasn't responding; I got frightened," Woodard explained. He said Valerie tried to perform CPR, but Woodard decided to take Zy to a local hospital.
"When we got to the hospital, Valerie was like, she was like broke down. I called my mom and asked what happened," Woodard said.
Shortly after Zy was taken to a Lufkin hospital, he was life flighted to the Houston hospital where he later died.
After the court recessed for lunch, the judge said the charge of capital murder had been lessened to first-degree murder. Judge Barry Bryan asked Prosecutor Art Baureiss if he was okay with this lesser charge.
Baureiss agreed, that it was the best thing for this case.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. on Monday.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:59 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:59:50 GMT
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