Monday, May 16, 2011

Stepmom on trial for murder of 5-year-old girl; she and custodial dad lied about mom to get custody (Muncie, Indiana)

We've posted before on this case. What is not addressed here is the corruption and incompetence that gave this abusive father initial custody, and the gaggle of idiots who refused to acknowledge this child was being systematically starved and tortured by her sicko daddy and his new wifey-poo.  

See our posts on this from last summer. Mom basically lost custody back in Arkansas because she was outlawyered by these pieces of sh**. They then shut off all visitation and disappeared into a new state (Indiana). Then to show how twisted they really were, these two told doctors and social workers that her MOTHER was abusing/neglecting her, when in fact the mother hadn't seen her in MONTHS! And absolutely nobody questioned their lies until the girl was dead.

Physician: Lauren McConniel's body 'just could not handle it any more'
9:15 PM, May. 13, 2011
Written by

MUNCIE -- The medical director of Riley Hospital for Children's pediatric intensive care unit testified Friday that a team of physicians "all believed" Lauren McConniel had been subjected to "forcible salt intake," leading to her March 2010 death.

The apparent consumption of "a very large amount" of salt by the 5-year-old Muncie girl, described by witnesses as malnourished and emaciated in the final weeks of her life, raised her sodium level to potentially lethal heights, and her weakened body was unable to recover from the resulting shock and brain seizures, physician Andrea Weist told Delaware Circuit Court 5 jurors.

"Her body just could not handle it any more," Weist said, adding that she believed that Lauren had also been subjected to "active" physical abuse.

The trial of Lauren's stepmother, 25-year-old Brittany McConniel, will enter its second week when testimony resumes at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

McConniel is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Class A felony carrying a standard 30-year prison term. Prosecutors have alleged the defendant and Brittany's father, Ryan, failed to seek medical attention for the ailing child despite her massive weight loss and self-destructive behavior in the final weeks of her life.

Ryan McConniel -- who has agreed to plead guilty to a neglect charge that could send him to prison for 20 years -- this week testified his now-ex-wife was abusive to Lauren, his daughter from a previous marriage, after she joined their household in August 2009, inflicting severe punishments that included beatings and forced exercise. He also described incidents of forced feeding.

Weist testified Friday that she alerted Riley's chid abuse team within hours of the girl's arrival at the Indianapolis hospital.

"She was malnourished to the point of near-death and (had) a lot of bruising," the physician said. "(Her father and stepmother) had a story that didn't fit the circumstances."

Several witnesses -- including Ryan McConniel -- testified this week that the couple repeatedly lied to those expressing concern about Lauren's deteriorating condition and appearance, falsely claiming she was under the care of a Winchester physician for her weight loss.

When they mentioned the purported treatment by the Winchester doctor to Weist, she told the McConniels that she happened to know that physician and would call him.

"They told me (then) they had not actually seen him," she said.

Weist said Lauren arrived at the hospital with bruises covering her body "in various stages of healing."

Ryan McConniel said punishments for Lauren concocted by the defendant and her stepfather, Robert E. Lee, included beating the girl's hands and the soles of her feet with posts removed from a wooden crib, and her legs with wet rags.

Weist said it quickly became apparent, based on "very grim neurological findings," that Lauren had "gone past the point" of being able to recover.

A therapist for Meridian Services who interviewed Lauren in February 2010, said the girl told her she had earlier been abused by her mother, from whose Tennessee home she was removed by the McConniels seven months before her death.

The witness said because Brittany McConniel used nearly identical wording in referring the Tennessee allegations during a separate conversation, it raised suspicions Lauren's comments had been "prompted" by her stepmother.

Ryan McConniel also maintained those allegations of abuse were the creation of Brittany McConniel, and Weist testified those claims were "obviously not true," based on photographs of a seemingly happy and healthy Lauren taken while in her mother's care that contrasted sharply with her later condition.

Defense attorney Zaki Ali asked Weist why others -- including medical professionals at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, who examined Lauren for a possible head injury hours before she was taken to Riley -- didn't recognize the dire state of the girl's health.

"Anyone who saw that child should have known," Weist said. "I would have thought anyone on the street would have known something was wrong."

Earlier witnesses noted that after they had been assured by the McConniels that the Winchester physician was treating Lauren for her weight-loss woes, they limited their focus to other problems.

The Meridian Services therapist said she had called Child Protective Services authorities with her concerns about Lauren's condition, and also tried, without success, to arrange for the McConniels to take the child to a pediatrician.

Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold and Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman's case against McConniel is expected to produce at least two more days of testimony.

Contact Douglas Walker at 213-5851.