Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fairfield Murder Trail - Bond Hearing - 20-01-09

Stuart Showalter
Lebanon, IN -
The hearing on Elizabeth Fairfield's request for bond pending the upcoming murder trial in which she is accused of killing her daughter, Brittany, began today in Boone Superior Court II. In what is amounting to a mini-trial, some of the 31 named witnesses began giving testimony. Fairfield is accused of causing her daughter's death by forcing her to ingest about 80 pain relieving pills.

Brittany's brother Willy was questioned extensively by Todd Meyer, the prosecutor, about what he was doing the evening of Brittany's death, what she was doing, how he discovered there was a problem, what his feelings were about his sister dying, what his parents feelings were, what they were doing and if and when they cried. Meyer's primary focus was on if anyone had tried to perform CPR and whether the parents cried about it.

Much of Willy's testimony included long pauses and responses of no recollection. Willy was asked if his mother had attempted CPR on Brittany. Meyer also asked if he or his father had. He further pushed the issue of did anyone try to do anything to save her or if they just called for the ambulance. As Willy fought back tears Meyer pounded away at him about any attempts made to save Brittany.

Meyer then asked about if and when Elizabeth or Paul Fairfield, Brittany's parents, had cried that night. When Willy stated that his parents were crying that night Meyer sprang to his feet and thrust a transcript of Willy's November, 19, 2007 questioning at Willy and asked Willy to read a couple lines. Willy managed to get the words out reciting Meyer's question if Willy saw his parents crying and his response of no. Meyer then confronted Willy about the discrepancy in his testimony. As Willy sobbed it was Deputy Prosecutor Bruce Petit who asked Meyer to lessen his attack on the distraught sibling. Meyer then told Willy he could use a tissue if needed.

Upon cross examination by an attorney for Mrs Fairfield, Thomas Harlow, Willy was again asked to read from the transcript which was calmly handed to him. This time it was from before and after the portion Meyer had him read. In this it was learned that Willy had on November 19, 2007 made statements that his parents were observing what was going on, that they were standing in the room and not crying, that later they were sitting and holding each other while crying.

Next, the defense called Lebanon police officer Jason Leap, the second of the emergency personnel to arrive, if he had attempted CPR. He responded no. He also stated that the first person to arrive, Officer TJ Nelson, likely did not attempt CPR either. Officer Leap testified that all Lebanon police officers are trained in performing CPR. The paramedic who arrived about a minute later testified that he did not attempt CPR and thought that it would have been a futile effort for anyone to try.

Dr Michael Evans a toxicologist and proprietor of AIT Labs in Indianapolis which does about 1500 toxicology examinations for coroners and medical examiners performing autopsies across the country testified. Although, at the time test were performed, late June 2007, there was more blood than necessary to perform the test that the additional blood was not preserved since the county did not request that. Dr Evans described the procedures by which toxicology examinations are performed. He stated that the machines do not state what is in the blood but provides data that must be interpreted.

Although the body generally begins to absorb Tramadol, the opiate that it is alleged cause the death of Brittany, immediately Dr Evans readily agreed that it could have been taken 5-6 hours earlier.

Afternoon questioning continued with dispatcher Robert Hatfield from the Boone County 9-1-1 center and Dr. Thomas Heniff from Lafayette Medical who treated Brittany at Witham Hospital the night of her death.

Mr Hatfield's testimony was very brief and concluded with he was aware of no evidence that Elizabeth Fairfield murdered her daughter Brittany.

While waiting for the scheduled arrival of the next witness the Court conducted a hearing on Mrs Fairfield's request for the county to pay for the cost of expert witnesses, transcripts and other pre-trial preparation costs. Through testimony by Elizabeth and Paul Fairfield the court learned that the Fairfield's have no significant assets of than their daughter's vehicle, which was purchased for $350 a year ago and a 1996 GMC van that Paul uses to drive to work.

The Fairfield's have been forced to move from a house into a trailer because of their loss of income. Paul testified that since the death of his daughter life became more stressful and he started missing work and is now near being terminated for losing so much work because the recent arrest of his wife has been extremely stressful on him.

The three attorneys currently defending Mrs Fairfield are providing their services pro bono, which is at no cost to the county. Todd Meyer suggested that the Fairfield's sell their van to raise money for Elizabeth's defense cost reasoning that the Fairfield's oldest daughter and Paul could share her car for work related travel.

At the conclusion of the indigence hearing Dr Heniff arrived. He spent significantly more time on the stand and testified as to the symptoms that Brittany had when brought to the hospital at 10:13 on the night of June 13, 2007. Dr Heniff testified that he concluded that Brittany had croup, a cough caused by a virus, and that her symptoms were not the result of Tramadol toxicity. When asked about the symptoms she had that were not consistent with Tramadol toxicity Dr Heniff mentioned elevated heart rate and a frothy discharge from the nose. He concluded his testimony stating that he saw no evidence that Elizabeth Fairfield had murdered her daughter which wrapped up a day in which every prosecution witness said the same.

Testimony is expected to continue through the day on Tuesday. Judge Rebecca McClure will then decide if bail will be granted to Elizabeth Fairfield who has been held in the Boone County Jail without bond since early December.

1 comment:

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