Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 24, 2012

Defendant takes the stand in abuse case

Jurors to decide on Jeffery Dice’s fate today.

Mike Fletcher
KOKOMO TRIBUNE

— Jeffery Dice II took the stand Wednesday in Howard Superior Court 4 on his own behalf and denied dipping a 19-month-old girl in boiling water May 5, 2011.

Dice, 22, is on trial for two Class B felony charges of battery on a child less than 14 years of age causing serious bodily injury and neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury.

Dice continually said, “I did not,” when asked by his attorney, David Rosselot, if he immersed the child’s legs, hands and face in a pot of boiling water.

The state represented by Prosecutor Mark McCann contends that Dice intentionally immersed the girl in a pot of boiling water that day.

During his testimony, Dice said that he was getting ready to cook ramen noodles for his stepdaughter, when he accidentally knocked the pan of boiling water off the stove. He further said he didn’t realize the child was in the room until he heard her scream. When ask where the girl was, Dice said he thought she was in her room playing. He further stated that when he looked down she was sitting on the floor screaming.

He also claimed he was burned by the scalding water, but he didn’t have any burn marks. After the incident, he said he noticed her left foot and left hand was bright red. He then called his aunt who is a nurse for advice. She told him to take her to the hospital, which he did.

Dr. Roberta Hibbard at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis testified earlier in the day that after examining the child she thought the injuries were consistent with intentional immersion burns and that the injuries were not suffered as a result of accidentally being splashed as Dice claimed.

With photos of the girl’s injuries on display for jurors, Hibbard explained that the injuries from her vast experience were not consistent with a splash burn pointing out the distinctive patterns of the burns to jurors.

Detective Ernie Shirey of the Howard County Sheriff Department also testified that he did not believe Hibbard’s claim and thought it was an accident. Shirey said he initiated an investigation, but did not request a warrant or place Dice under arrest.

Going off the information from representatives of the Department of Child Services and Hibbard’s report, McCann elected to request and obtain a warrant for Dice’s arrest regardless of Shirey’s opinion.

In an unusual move, the second day of the trial started with a defense witness.

Judge George Hopkins allowed Rosselot to call the defense’s expert witness, Dr. Richard Kagan, prior to the state resting due to a scheduling conflict.

Kagan testified that after reviewing the photos and reports from police, family and physicians he concluded the burns to the feet and hands were consistent with immersion burns. He also testified he believed the burns did not occur from one instance.

In his cross examination, McCann pointed out to jurors that Kagan did not examine the child or interview anybody in the case in coming up with his conclusions. Kagan also said he was paid $6,200 for his review and testimony.

Closing arguments are expected to begin at 8:30 a.m. today.