Day 7: Trial of ETX mom accused of killing babysitter

Published: May. 15, 2012 at 12:49 PM CDT|Updated: May. 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM CDT
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The trial of an East Texas woman accused of killing her mentally disabled babysitter continues in a Tyler courtroom. Tuesday is day seven of testimony in Kimberly Cargill's murder trial.

Once again, KLTV's Melanie Torre will have live updates from the courtroom throughout the day.

Kimberly Cargill Trial Day 7

Jones is back on the stand at 8:30am being cross examined by the defense. The defense is asking her about her felony charges and asking her if she wants to go to prison. She says she does not. She's currently out on a PR bond. The defense asks her again if she has any deal with the DA's office regarding her testimony. She says no.

The defense starts going over Jones' testimony and comparing it to Jones' previous interviews with law enforcement and one 8 hour interview with the DA's office. The defense asks why Jones never said anything about Cargill wanting to take her babysitter out to eat until yesterday. She says she doesn't remember if she's told anyone else that but she says she knew they'd spoken about that.

State takes over witness again. They ask Jones again if yesterday was the first day she told anyone Cargill wanted to take her babysitter out to dinner. She says no it was not the first time because she'd told a detective about it and the assistant DA. The state pulls up transcriptions of these interviews from July 2010.

The state reviews what Jones testified to yesterday.. They talk about the phone call from Cargill to Jones on June 21 telling Jones that Cherry had been found dead and how Jones couldn't find the name Cherry in any news articles.

State: What reason are you testifying today and yesterday?

Jones: I was subpoenaed.

State: Are you in here telling some kind of lies because you think you might avoid prison?

Jones: I don't know what's going to happen to me.

State: Are you telling the truth

Jones: Yes ma'am

Defense takes over the witness. He asks Jones if she is aware the defense was trying to get in touch with her but her lawyer wouldn't let them. She says she was not aware. Defense asks why she told law enforcement that she'd learned Cherry was mentally challenged from reading the paper if she testified that she'd learned about Cherry's mental disability from Cargill. Jones says she learned Cargill had a mentally challenged babysitter from Cargill and that Cargill had two babysitters. She says she learned from the paper that Cherry Walker was the mentally challenged babysitter.

State announces their next witness will be Dr. Meredith Lann. State asks for a ten minute recess to organize exhibits.

10 minute recess

Dr. Meredith Lann is sworn in. She goes over her extensive education including degrees and fellowships at UT Austin, UTSA, Virginia, University of Colorado, etc. Lann conducted the autopsy on Cherry Walker and is now a medical examiner in Alaska. She explains to the jury what an autopsy is and what the purpose of an autopsy is. Lann explains a manner of death can be determined as 1 of 5 things: natural, accident, suicide, homicide or undetermined. She says mechanism of death is a physiologic abnormality that results in the death of a person.

Lann explains the protocol for receiving a body for autopsy-- from reviewing charts to external and internal examinations including organ details.

Lann conducted the autopsy of Cherry Walker on June 20, 2010. She says it was normal to review 10-15 cases a day. Lann says she picked up Walker's case out of interest.

"Being a very thorough person, I want to have as much information as possible, especially when there is a death that is homicidal in nature," Lann says.

State says Lann and the state went over photos taken during the autopsy. Lann says the very graphic photos have been removed because they were not appropriate or in her opinion of the most importance for the jury to see.

The defense reviews the photos Lann has chosen to show the jury and asks her if it is absolutely necessary for her to use the photos to explain what she needs to explain in her testimony. She says the photos are necessary.

The state goes over some of Cherry's medical records regarding seizures and tremors with Lann.

State asks Lann if the mechanism of death was unknown. Lann says that is correct and explains the lining that covered Walker's eyes showed small bleeds that would be components of asphyxiation, but because Cherry was found face down, those bleeds could also be a result of her body decomposing so asphyxiation can neither be ruled a cause or ruled out.

Lann says the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Lann says details from the crime scene are all taken into account during an autopsy

State goes over possible scenarios for how Cherry's body wound up like it did... He says maybe Cherry walked to Whitehouse and fell over dead before a random person set her on fire... Maybe she had a seizure in the car with someone who got scared, drove to a remote location and dumped the body and set it on fire even though they'd done nothing wrong... Defense objects to the state leading the witness.

State goes over photos from crime scene and photos taken during the autopsy. Lann says Walker had many abrasions on her face that were not consistent with dragging on gravel but maybe with being placed on gravel. Lann and the State discuss the possibility of a sheet being used to move the body. State shows Lann the photo of the sheet found in Cargill's washer days after the alleged murder... Lann says the sheet is a possible mode of transporting the body but she can't be sure.

The state goes over a series of photos taken when Walker's body came in for autopsy. Lann explains the purpose of each photo.

As the photos, which are still fairly graphic, are put on display for the courtroom, Cargill continues to stare at the table in front if her, rarely lifting her head or moving.

Lann says she doesn't think Walker was breathing at the time of the burning because there was no soot in her airways.

Lann says Walker did have seizure medication in her system when the autopsy was conducted.

Lann says she is very confident in her determinations that Walker died as a result of homicidal violence at the hands of another but the means of death is undetermined. She says she is confident that Walker did not die from a seizure.

Lann says Walker had bruising on her arms and leg in places that wouldn't have had contact with the ground.

Pass the witness.

Lann goes over all of the bruises she found on Walker's body. When she mentions a bruise on the chest, the defense asks if that bruise could be consistent with someone performing CPR on Walker. Lann says yes.

Defense asks if Walker's bruises are consistent with defensive wounds. Lann says no.

Lann says she took extra time to look for needle holes on Walker's body because she knew the suspect was an LVN. She says she found none nor did the toxicology report show evidence of abnormal medications in her system.

Lann says she cannot be sure if Walker was dead or in the process of dying when she received the thermal (burns) injuries.

Defense asks Lann if there were bruises around the neck or evidence of the trachea being crushed. She says there were not.

Lann says as far as the mechanism of death she just doesn't know.

Defense asks if it's possible for someone to die of seizure. Lann says yes and explains how that determination can be made.

Defense goes over Walker's medical history with Lann and asks if seizures fall within her realm of expertise. She says she knows about seizures.

Defense asks if a bitten tongue and a bruise in the mouth could be evidence someone had a seizure. She says they could be signs of seizure. Defense asks if Walker had a bruise on the inside of her mouth. Lann says Walker may have had a light bruise in her mouth but that wasn't determined for certain.

Defense asks Lann what her cause of death findings would have been if Walker was found dead in her apartment without burns on her body. Lann says she can't say.

Defense asks Lann if she is a crime scene re constructionist. She says she is not.

Defense asks what was in Walker's stomach. Lann says there was food, a pill and dark brown liquid in her stomach. Lann says she looked up the inscription on the pill and found it to be an anti-inflammatory.

Pass the witness.

State addresses the defenses mention of CPR. Lann says she cannot say if someone tried CPR. Lann is asked if the bruises on Walker's chest could have been a result of someone applying pressure to her chest as they were killing her. Lann says its possible.

Defense tries giving the doctor a hypothetical situation again where Walker is found in the apartment without being burned, and asks Lann if then she could not have ruled out seizure. Lann says under those circumstances, she could find an undetermined cause of death.

Lann maintains that she does not believe Walker died of a seizure. 

State goes over everything Lann took into account with her findings. Lann says in her determination of homicidal violence, other than the findings found during the actual autopsy, she considered that Walker was:

-mentally challenged

-away from her home

-found in a remote locations

-had no identifying info on her

-was burned by someone else

-found by a passerby 

Recess until 1pm

State rests. Defense to begin at 9 am tomorrow.

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