Posted on Thu, Apr. 16, 2009
BY TIM POTTER
The Wichita Eagle
Katie Cornejo leaves the courtroom during a recess on the first day of her trial. She is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old stepdaughter.
Coroner Testifies in Cornejo Trial
The corner who examined Daytona Robertson's body testified that the child died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Emotional Testimony In Toddler Death Trial
Emotional testimony today in the case of a Wichita woman accused in the death of her stepdaughter
Assistant District Attorney Robert Short delivers opening statements in the case against Katie Cornejo, who is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old stepdaughter.
- Last day of child's life subject of testimony
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WICHITA - WICHITA _ Jurors will be allowed to see autopsy photos of 2-year-old Daytona Robertson, a judge ruled this morning.
The ruling came in the fourth day of trial for Katie Cornejo, 28, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her stepdaughter, Daytona.
Cornejo's defense attorney, Alice Osburn, argued that the jury should not be allowed to see the 14 autopsy photos saying they were graphic and would "cloud the jury's judgment and not afford Ms. Cornejo a fair trial."
But Robert Short, a prosecutor in the Sedgwick County District Attorney's office, argued that the photos are necessary to illustrate the injuries.
Judge Clark Owens agreed, saying the photos are the "bare minimum" needed for the jury to understand the injuries.
The photos may be shocking, but "unfortunately this is a shocking case, and it's part of the case," said Deborah Johnson, the medical examiner.
She told the jury that the force of the blow that Daytona suffered is "comparable to being in a traffic accident."
Jurors also are expected to hear taped testimony from a boy who was at a home where a paramedic found his 2 ½-year-old stepsister with a fatal head injury in February 2008.
Jurors also could eventually hear testimony from Jessica Cummings, a day-care provider. According to statements in court, Cummings initially told Cornejo after Daytona went to the hospital that Daytona had fallen on a hardwood floor at Cummings' home the day before.
According to other statements, Cummings said she was mistaken in saying the child who fell was Daytona -- that it instead was Daytona's stepsister, Kailee Hundley.
Cornejo's defense attorney, Osburn, has tried to point a finger at others, who she says could have been responsible for Daytona's injuries.
In a separate case, Cummings has been sentenced to 32 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of 13-month-old Kailee -- Cornejo's biological daughter. While in Cummings' care in March 2008 -- about a month after Daytona died -- Kailee strangled on a car seat strap while left unattended for more than two hours in a laundry room.
Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.