Smithield woman said she shook baby, trooper testifies
A Fayette County woman accused of violently shaking her 14-month-old son — until he suffered permanent brain injuries — told police he would not stop crying after having kept her up all night, two state policemen told a jury on Monday.
“She wasn't having a good morning,” testified Trooper Daniel Boyd as he recounted an oral statement Jessica Rhodes gave to police four days after her son was hurt.
“She was frustrated because she didn't get any sleep,” Boyd said during the first day of Rhodes' trial before President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. in Uniontown.
“When he wouldn't stop crying, she shook him until he stopped,” Boyd said.
Rhodes, 20, of Smithfield is charged with aggravated assault, child endangerment, simple assault and reckless endangerment.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Mehalov is seeking to prove Rhodes violently shook her toddler in her mobile home on Dec. 1, 2012. The boy, now 2, suffered a traumatic brain injury, Mehalov said in an opening statement to jurors.
Rhodes initially told troopers her son was injured when he fell from a standing position and hit his head on the floor, according to Trooper John Krause.
“She said he crawled over to a couch, and he started to climb up that couch,” Krause testified. “He fell backward on his butt, then fell backward on his head.”
Boyd testified that Rhodes repeated the same story four days later but added the part about shaking the boy when she was advised his injuries were too severe to have been caused by the fall.
Rhodes told troopers her son's eyes “got big” and he became unresponsive after she shook him, Boyd testified.
Rhodes said, “I didn't even realize what I had done until it was too late,” Boyd testified, reading from a written statement she gave to police.
“I'm truly sorry and willing to do whatever it takes to have my son in my arms again,” Rhodes wrote.
Under questioning by defense attorney Thomas Shaffer of Uniontown, Boyd and Krause testified they did not advise Rhodes of her Miranda rights to remain silent and not speak without an attorney until after she said she had shaken her son.
Boyd testified Rhodes was not advised of her rights when police first spoke with her on Dec. 1 because the officers did not know a crime had occurred until days later, when doctors advised the troopers of the extent of the boy's injuries.
Rhodes was a suspect when the troopers spoke with her four days later in a closed-door, private room at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville, Boyd testified.
The officers were under no legal obligation to advise her of her rights at the start of the interview because she was not under arrest, Boyd testified.
Both troopers testified that immediately after Rhodes told them she had shaken her baby, they stopped the interview to advise her of her rights.
Rhodes is free on $10,000 bond. The trial is scheduled to resume on Tuesday before Wagner.
Shaffer said Rhodes' son is in the care of his grandmother.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fayette officials reappoint dead man
- Geibel distributes brand new computers to each student
- Connellsville finances discussed
- Fayette County zoning board considers proposed resort in Dunbar Township
- Porterfield: Donegal Christian school plans blood drive
- Major storm skips past Fay-West area
- Measles warning issued to Connellsville
- 3 donors to match, help ministries reach campaign goal
- Connellsville looks for ways to raise money, cut expenses
- South Connellsville Mayor Casini arraigned in gun case
- Supervisor testifies in trial of woman charged in deadly North Union crash