A mother testifies about the last days of her young daughter’s life at a murder trial in Salina for the man accused of killing her. Robin Harrington told jurors how her 18-month-old daughter Bre’Elle transformed from an active child to a lethargic one in the days before she died in April of 2012.
27-year-old Troy Love, who was Harrington’s boyfriend at the time, is facing charges that include 1st degree murder and child abuse.
Harrington told jurors that she was diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis on March 24th of 2012. Because of the condidition, and medication that was prescribed to her, she needed extra help in caring for her three young children. Love, who had been living with her for a short time, agreed to help.
Love intitially was looking after all three children, but Harrington said she was woke up one morning by her youngest child crying in his bed. She said he was covered in urine and feces. After that, Love was no longer responsible for the baby beause he “didn’t like taking care of babies”.
Harrington tesitified that she began to notice changes in Bre’Elle. Most notably the normally energetic child became lethargic.
According to Harrington, the change in Bre’Elle became apparant on April 1st during a visit to Rolling Hills Zoo. She said that herdaughter was lethargic and listless during the visit, very unusual for her. Normally, she would be excited to be outside and around the animals. Harrington said that they took a break for lunch, and as Bre’Elle sat on her lap she noticed a bruise in her left ear. She said that she consulted with Love about taking Bre’Elle to the hospital. Ultimatley she decided to wait a few days.
As the next few days progressed, Bre’Elle developed a sore neck, and struggled to turn her head. Harrington said that she also noticed that Bre’Elle had lost some hair. She consulted family and friends, and opted to get some vitamins thinking that maybe stress or malnutrition was the problem.
On Thursday, April 5th, Harrington said that an old friend asked her if she wanted to go out. She said that Love encouraged her to “get out of the house”, and agreed to watch the children. According to Harrington, Love became angry with her when he disapproved of how she was dressed. After going out for a couple of hours to The Inferno dance club in downtown Salina, she came home. She said that Love got angry with her again when she received a text message from someone she met at the club.
Harrington testified that the next day, Friday April 6th, Bre’Elle was uncomfortable and cried off and on all day.
After there was no improvement by Saturday April 7th, Harrington took Bre’Elle to the hospital. She said that she was relieved when Bre’Elle was diagnosed with an upper respirtory infection and swollen glands. That explained the sore neck and lethargy. She was given a prescription.
The next day was Easter Sunday, April 8th. Harrington said that Bre’Elle seemed to be improving. When she put her to bed that night “she seemed fine”.
Bre’Elle woke up early on April 9th. Harrington said the little girl was hungry, and was “acting more like her old self.” She was excited about the candy from her Easter basket, and kept bringing it to have it opened. She was also happily playing with her brother and sister. Harrington put the two girls down in their bedroom for a nap early in the afternoon, and turned on “Shrek 2” for them to watch while they fell asleep.
While the girls were in the bedroon napping, Harrington joined Love out in the living room. She said that she received a call from a male friend, and didn’t answer. Love got angry, she said, and called the number back and argued with the person. He then argued with Robin. When things calmed down, she layed on the couch with her youngest child and fell asleep.
Harrington said she was woke up by Love kicking the couch. He was holding Bre’Elle saying “she’s not breathing”. She said the child’s body was limp. Harrington took her and began CPR. She told Love to get the upstairs neighbor. He went out the front door, and came back with the neighbor who took over doing CPR. Harrington called 911. As the ambulance arrived, she said they carried Bre’Elle out to the front yard to meet it.
Harrington said that she and Love’s sister followed the ambulance to the hospital. Love had not been seen since bringing the neighbor down. Harrington said that he had told her the Bre’Elle woke up and was crying. He brought her a drink. She didn’t want it, so he took it in the kitchen. Harrington testified that Love said when he went back to the bedroom Bre’Elle was not breathing.
Harrington thought that Love was still in the house when she was out in the yard meeting the first responders. He wasn’t though. He had exited through the back without talking to anyone before leaving.
At the hospital, staff assessed Bre’Elle’s condition. Harrington said she was told that the injuries were serious and that Bre’Elle would have to be transferred to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
Harrington said that as she prepared to go to WIchita she went back home to get some items to take for Bre’Elle, including a teddy bear. Police were at the house, processing the scene. An officer retrieved some items for her.
In Wichita, Harrington was told that Bre’Elle was suffering from injuries consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Her brain was swollen and the prognosis was that she would never wake up. Ultimately Harrington made the decision to take Bre’Elle off of life support. She allowed her organs to be havested for donation. Harrington said that she was with her daughter when she died.
Harrington testified that Love called her prior to her leaving for Wichita. He asked about Bre’Elle. She told him the situation wasn’t good. She said that she asked Love to call police and talk to them. He told her “I can’t”. Harrington added that Love’s sister gave him the number of a detective to call. Love ended up turning himself in two weeks later, after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Harrington said that the last time she saw Bre’Elle conscious was when she put her down for her nap.
During cross examination, Harrington said that Bre’Elle had fallen out of a moving car in Decemebr of 2011. She said the car was only going about 5 – 10 miles an hour, turning a corner. The only injury was a scratch. She said that though there was a car seat in the vehicle, Bre’Elle had not been properly buckled in.
Harrington also told about Bre’Elle falling down some stairs in January of 2012. She fell down “at least four stairs” Harrington said, but didn’t sustain any injuries.
Under cross-examination Harrington also said that she never saw Love spank or beat any of the children. She denied telling Love to leave the scene on April 9th.
The trial is expected to last through at least next week.