Trial begins for Bolivar father accused in baby's death
Kayla Lichtenfels wanted to try her hand at feeding Natalie Kay Mibroda, but her boyfriend, Clayton Mibroda, refused to surrender the 20-day-old infant to her mother.
A short time later, on the afternoon of Dec. 27, 2011, a doctor told Lichtenfels the baby was dead.
“I just thought she choked on her bottle,” Lichtenfels told a Westmoreland County jury on Tuesday.
Lichtenfels testified on Tuesday, the opening day of trial for Mibroda, 26, of Bolivar, who is charged with homicide in the baby's death.
Indiana County Coroner Michael Baker testified that Natalie died from blunt-force trauma to the head and chest. Police said Mibroda gave inconsistent stories about the child's extensive injuries.
Kayla Lichtenfels, 21, testified that she and Mibroda had been dating since Dec. 11, 2009, and had two children together, Natalie and their son, who is 1.
Lichtenfels said Mibroda wasn't much help with the children until December 2011, when he started to care mainly for Natalie in their home on Sixth Street.
On the morning of Dec. 27, 2011, Lichtenfels testified, she dropped her son off at her grandmother's and went to see a doctor for treatment for depression while Mibroda stayed home with Natalie.
When she got home, Mibroda refused to give Lichtenfels the baby, she testified.
Her grandmother, Janet Lichtenfels, testified that she was asked to talk to Mibroda because she frequently resolved disputes between the couple.
Upon arriving at the couple's mobile home, Janet Lichtenfels said, she saw her great-granddaughter lying on the floor, unresponsive.
“Clayton was in the back empty bedroom with the baby laying on her right-hand side, facing him,” Janet Lichtenfels testified. “I asked him what was going on and he said the baby was throwing up.”
Janet Lichtenfels ran to a neighbor's home to call 911 and frantically began relaying CPR instructions from a dispatcher to Mibroda. By then, he was sitting in a car outside his home, attempting to resuscitate Natalie.
The jury of six men and six women listened to a tape of the 12-minute call in Judge John E. Blahovec's courtroom.
Mibroda remained composed throughout the ordeal, medical professionals testified.
“He seemed pretty calm about the whole thing, more so than I expected,” testified Jason Tartalone, a paramedic who was summoned to the home.
Upon arrival at 1:24 p.m., the infant was not breathing and had no pulse, paramedic Paula Edwards testified.
Mibroda told paramedics that his daughter was in a car seat in the back of his vehicle when she began to cry. When he tried to feed her, the girl went limp, according to testimony.
At the emergency room in Indiana Regional Medical Center, Dr. Michael Stalteri pronounced Natalie dead.
Upon receiving the news, Kayla Lichtenfels became hysterical and Mibroda was “somewhat tearful” as he tried to console her, the doctor said.
“It seemed that the mother was much more upset than the father,” Stalteri testified.
Baker was summoned and ordered an autopsy.
“I had a certain amount of belief that there might have been trauma involved in the death,” Baker testified.
Mibroda balked, Baker testified.
“He told me he didn't want an autopsy done,” he testified.
Mibroda gave several different stories to investigators, from being woken up because Natalie had stopped breathing to the baby suffering injuries as he accidentally fell, Assistant District Attorney Wayne Gongaware told the jury.
Natalie suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and chest, a fractured clavicle, bleeding in her brain and other injuries, Gongaware said.
“In proceeding with trial, Clayton has implicitly said, ‘I am not guilty,'” public defender Wayne McGrew told jurors.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.