FOLLOW LIVE: Defense expert testifies in Butler County babysitter murder trial

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Family 3-year-old 'brain dead' after alleged abuse by babysitter

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A defense medical expert has taken the stand to testify in the trial of a Hanover Twp. woman accused of murder in a 3-year-old’s death in March 2018.

Follow the Journal-News reporter from the courtroom:

THIS MORNING’S STORY

Attorneys for a Hanover Twp. woman charged in the death of a 3-year-old she was babysitting challenged statements the child's father made to police on Tuesday.

The jury heard from Jason Wesche, the father of 3-year-old Hannah Wesche, who died in March 2018 . Tuesday was the seventh day of the trial of Lindsay Partin, who is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for Hannah’s death in March 2018.

Jason Wesche looked through a stack of photos from his kitchen taken on March 8, 2018, the day his 3-year-old daughter collapsed at Partin’s residence and never regained consciousness. Hannah died 10 days later after suffering head trauma.

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Defense attorney Melynda Cook Howard asked him if he had milk or cereal in the refrigerator on shelves. Wesche said, “no.” But the single father told detectives he picked up Hannah on the evening of March 7, 2018 and went to Walmart to buy milk. He also told detectives that Hannah was acting normally the next morning, eating cereal before leaving his house that neighbors Partin’s residence.

“So you lied when you said you and Hannah went to Walmart to get milk,” Cook Howard said to Wesche.

“Yes,” he said, adding he was under a lot of stress at the time and thought he had gone to get milk.

Just before trial, Jason Wesche said he remembered he took a friend home to Fairfield that night and came home. Then he and Hannah fell asleep on the couch.

Cook Howard said that Wesche was behind on rent and babysitting money owed to Partin in March 2018 and had gotten into trouble at work, a construction company owned by Partin’s boyfriend’s family.

“You knew you were on a short leash,” Cook Howard said to him.

 

Then she suggested Hannah was injured while Wesche was running late for work that morning and fell when he pulled the car seat while climbing from the front to the back seat.

Wesche said that didn’t happen. He often did not strap the child into the car seat to travel the short distances from his house to Partin’s on a private drive because Hannah “liked to drive” while sitting his lap, he said.

“But that day she climbed over the seat and laid down in the back seat,” Wesche said, adding Hannah did not fall.

Wesche said he told detectives and Partin some inconsistent statements in 2018, because of the stress he was under.

“I was confused,” Wesche said. “I was concerned about my daughter and telling my other children she was going to die.”

During interrogation by detectives that day after Hannah collapsed at her residence, Partin admitted to hitting, slapping and shacking the toddler. The jury heard that confession on video played in the courtroom Friday and Monday.

But the defense says the technique used to question Partin could result in a false confession.

In a dramatic moment, Cook Howard hauled multiple boxes containing pages of cell phone documents extracted from Partin’s phone into the middle of the courtroom. The defense attorney pointed out the phone download contained 33,000 pages, but his report contained only 17 pages of that data.

On Saturday, prosecutors and defense attorneys traveled to Michigan to depose noted forensic pathologist Werner Spitz, who will testify for the defense.

Now 92, Spitz was a defense witness in the 2011 trial of Casey Anthony, a Florida mother acquitted of murder in the death of her 2-year-old. Spitz also was a defense witness in the Warren County trials of Ryan Widmer, who was convicted for the bathtub murder of his wife, Sarah.

Defense attorneys have hinted in trial questioning that Spitz has a different opinion of the timeline of Hannah’s injuries.

Dr. Dorothy Dean, a forensic pathologist with the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office, said Hannah suffered deep bruising to the back of the head, some of which was revealed only after the skin was peeled away from the skull. She also had a hemorrhage to the optic nerve and “tremendous brain damage.”

Dean said Hannah’s death was a homicide and that the toddler would not have been acting normally within “a couple moments” of receiving the injury.

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