Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Monster" dad on trial for beating death of 3-year-old daughter; what happened to the mother of this child? (Christian County, Kentucky)

The custody situation is made (intentionally?) very vague here.

Was dad CHARLES TIMOTHY MORRIS an "absentee" father because he was in Iraq? Or because he couldn't be bothered?

When did he separate from and/or divorce the mother of this child?

Why is there no mention of the mother? Did the mother have concerns about the child's injuries, concerns that were ignored by those in authority? Who granted this man visitation? Or did he have custody? Why is Daddy the one to be taking the girl to the hospital? Very peculiar that there's no mention of a mother even in the follow-up medical care.

Seriously, if this father is violent enough to kill a child, it's important for the press to at least verify that the mother is alive. Most of the time, if he battered a child he battered the mother as well.


Prosecutor paints defendant as 'monster' in child’s death
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013 8:40 pm | Updated: 11:59 pm, Mon Sep 9, 2013.
By Steve Breen, New Era staff reporter

The trial for an Iraqi War veteran began Monday with the prosecutor painting the defendant as an emotionless monster who beat his 3-year-old daughter to death.

Spc. Charles Timothy Morris, 24, Fort Campbell, is accused of murder in the July 2, 2011, death of Alayna Adair.

“I cannot think of any need as strong as the need for a father’s protection,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Pryor intoned in her opening statement, borrowing a quote from Sigmund Freud.

After a swift jury selection, Pryor led her opening from a lectern with an 8-inch by 10-inch photo of Alayna facing the jury. Pryor also used a PowerPoint presentation listing the murder charge against Morris, the witnesses for the prosecution and the medical documents detailing Alayna’s injuries.

Christian Circuit Judge Andrew Self presided over the proceedings, while public defender Brandi McEldowney represented Morris.

A Christian County Grand Jury indicted Morris July 29, 2011. He was taken into custody in Texas — where he was on vacation — by federal marshals several days later and extradited back to Kentucky.

On Monday, Pryor argued Morris was an absent father for the first two years of Alayna’s life and that, as visitations with Morris increased, so did her injuries.

Pryor claimed that, to avoid scrutiny, Morris would frequently take Alayna behind closed doors to discipline her for misbehaving.

Pryor said she will present witnesses who will testify that Morris was overbearing and violent while disciplining Alayna for seemingly small toddler gaffes. The witnesses will say that Morris left Alayna bruised, bloodied, broken and eventually dead, Pryor said. Pryor also claimed Morris was completely emotionless and uncaring as his daughter died.

The prosecution’s second witness, Tiffany Slaughter, was one of the paramedics who responded to Morris’ 911 call about his daughter slipping in the bath tub on the day she died.

A paramedic with 10 years of experience, Slaughter said that, when she arrived on scene, Morris was in the front yard of his home, waving down the ambulance with one arm and cradling Alayna with the other, as the ambulance drove past his home.

Slaughter said she immediately jumped out to help while the driver of the ambulance backed up. She testified that she remembered Morris just standing there, and he did not come to meet her.

Slaughter told the jury Morris was not emotional in any way and he showed little interest in what was going on around him, something Slaughter has not seen from many other people in similar situations in her long career.

Morris’s behavior was so odd to Slaughter that she included it in her final report at the hospital — something she said she had never done before.

The defense countered Pryor’s contentions with a gallery of photos of Alayna and her father in candid poses — at birthday parties, carving pumpkins for Halloween, snuggling on the couch watching TV and playing in the yard.

McEldowney claimed Pryor conveniently left out statements from witnesses and reports in order to make the commonwealth’s case against Morris. McEldowney offered that Morris was a loving and doting father, and that Alayna, while expecting any visits from her father, always excitedly asked, “When’s Daddy coming? When’s Daddy coming?”

As to Pryor’s claim that Morris is a “emotionless monster,” McEldowney asked the jury, “How does the state know how Mr. Morris reacts under stress? He’s a soldier and trained to react differently than the rest of us.”

However, the prosecution’s lead witness, Dr. Shahana Choudhury, who treated Alayna for a broken arm on June 11, 2011, maintained the girl’s injuries were consistent with abuse.

About three before Alayna died, Morris took her to Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville. Choudhury testified that Morris said his daughter suffered “nursemaid’s elbow,” a simple and common childhood dislocation. Choudhury said Morris offered no explanation as to the source of the injury and Morris seemed disgruntled by the doctor’s continued questioning yet agreed to an X-ray, which later showed a fracture.

Pryor attempted to show with hospital documents and the doctor’s notes that Morris changed his story and offered up a new excuse at a much later date that Alayna had fallen while playing on a slip-and-slide.

On cross-examination, McEldowney held up the X-ray report from the same day Choudhury treated the girl. In the report, the X-ray technician cited the father claiming that Alayna had fallen off a slip-and-slide, and McEldowney claimed Pryor was being dishonest about Morris changing his story.

On redirect, Pryor elicited from the doctor that Morris changed a follow-up appointment to avoid any more of Choudhury’s inquiries as well as a documentary statement from the medical report that Alayna’s “fracture (was) not normal for a child at this age.”

Morris declined to comment on the first day of his trial when asked during an afternoon recess.

“I don’t care what anybody says or thinks about me,” he said.

“Who I am will come out,” he continued as he nodded toward the empty jury box.

If convicted. Morris faces a possible life sentence. The trial is expected to last through Friday with a break on Wednesday.