Several hours of testimony — including that of the victim's mother — highlighted day two of the jury trial for a Kokomo man charged with murdering an 8-week-old infant in November 2017.
Jaquail Smith, 23, is currently facing felony charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery after police say August Minniear died under his care at an apartment in the 1300 block of East Alto Road on Nov. 8, 2017 while the boy's mother, also the defendant's ex-girlfriend, was out running errands.
If convicted, Smith could possibly spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
And in what was at times an emotional testimony on Wednesday, Kinzie Minniear, August's mother, told the court about how she discovered her son the day he was injured and the decision to eventually take him off life support.
Describing the day as "normal" and "ordinary," Minniear said she left to run errands with her friend a little after 5 p.m. Upon leaving, August was on her bed on a Boppy pillow, and Smith was sitting in the living room playing video games, Minniear testified.
Minniear also told the court that she felt no hesitation leaving August with Smith and even described him as a "proud papa," although he was not the child's biological father.
Upon her return from running errands, Minniear said Smith was in the bedroom with August lying at the end of the bed. Minniear also testified that she noticed the child's swollen head right away and that Smith "flipped out" and told her they needed to take the child to the hospital immediately.
Minniear then began to cry as she described August's condition as "critical," saying that she had never seen an adult in that condition, let alone a child. She also stated that August had labored breathing and closed eyes, but he was still conscious when they left for the hospital.
When Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann asked Minniear what Smith told her in regards to what happened that could have caused August's injuries, she said that Smith just kept saying he didn't know and that he "didn't f------ do anything."
During cross-examination, defense attorney Mark Dabrowski brought up the medical reports that stated how August appeared to have healing fractures throughout his body, including in his head, clavicle area and right arm, to which Minniear noted that she had no prior indication that August was in distress before the day he died.
Another witness during Wednesday's evidence phase of the trial included Dr. Christopher Poulos, a forensic pathologist with the Marion County Coroner's Office who performed August's autopsy.
While several of those autopsy images were displayed on a nearby screen, Poulos described the boy's injuries as consistent with someone who would have fallen from a distance of over 10 feet or someone who was involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Pointing out a large skull fracture and a hemorrhage on the boy's brain, Poulos stated that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, with the manner of death being ruled a homicide.
Poulos also said that some of the injuries aligned themselves with what he's seen as possible suffocation, but he would not comment on whether that was indeed the case in August's situation.
The state also called upon the boy's grandmother and great-grandmother to testify, with both of them saying that they overheard Smith apologizing to August while he was in the hospital, as well as an inmate who told the jury that Smith shared a jail cell with him last year and during that time together, the defendant admitted to killing the infant with a Mason jar after the child fell off the bed and struck his head on a nearby nightstand.
The murder trial enters its third day on Thursday, with the state continuing to present evidence before the defense will then have its turn.