Jeffrey Denby Murder Trial: Day 3 - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Jeffrey Denby Murder Trial: Day 3

by Brandon Richards bio | email

DERIDDER, LA (KPLC-TV) – Beauregard Parish prosecutors began making their case against Jeffrey Denby, who is facing life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2009 death of a DeRidder toddler.

Prosecutors called seven witnesses on the first day of opening arguments. The witnesses ranged from the emergency room doctor who was the first physician to see the abused body of John Thomas "J.T." Anthony Brewer to Beauregard Parish deputies who interviewed Denby as the toddler clung to life in a Lake Charles hospital.

The DeRidder emergency room doctor who examined the toddler, Dr. John McMillan, testified that Holly Brewer said the boy, who was seizing, had fallen down the stairs.  McMillan said after looking over the toddler's injuries, he immediately expected abuse. McMillan said he noticed bruising outside of the ear and said the ear drum was filled with blood. McMillan also said the tot's head trauma was at the most severe stage based on the Glasgow Coma scale.

Jurors also viewed a one hour fifteen minute DVD conversation that Denby had with Beauregard Parish deputies just hours after the tot was flown to Lake Charles.

In the DVD video, Denby repeatedly said the toddler had fallen down the stairs. However, about 40 minutes into the video, Denby's story starts to change. Denby then admits to severely abusing the young boy after the toddler knocked over the bassinet with Denby's infant daughter inside it. Denby said that is when he lost control and describes how he beat John Thomas, including punching him, violently throwing him on the couch and bed, even hitting him with the bristles of a broom stick.

As Denby watched the television screen of his confession to investigators, he sat quietly and put his hand over his mouth.

Denby's attorney, Tony Bennett, said in opening statements that while his client admits to beating the toddler, he didn't intend to kill the child. Bennett told jurors the state will have to prove intent before they can find Denby guilty.

One of the state's witnesses, Paul Hillard, is a former roommate of Jeffrey Denby's. Hillard is the longtime boyfriend of Denby's wife, Miranda. Jeffery Denby and his girlfriend, Holly Brewer, moved into the same house as Denby's wife and her boyfriend. Though it was a strange living arrangement, Hillard testified that he never saw Denby abuse any of the kids who lived with them. Hillard did testify that on the night of June 18th, Denby told him he had given J.T. "the whipping of his life."

Hillard testified, and Denby said in the DVD statement, that after finding an unresponsive John Thomas lying in bed later that evening, they examined the toddler's eyes with a flashlight. Hillard also testified that Brewer took the toddler to a bathtub, believing he was suffering from a severe fever.

Jurors also heard testimony from the pediatric specialist who treated the toddler, Dr. Jamal Saqer, Calcasieu Parish coroner Terry Welke, who ruled the toddler's death a homicide, Beauregard Parish Detectives Shannon Burgess and Jared Morton and deputy Scott Greeman.

The trial resumes at 9:30 A.M. Thursday.

The toddler's mother, Holly Brewer, has been charged with accessory after the fact to second degree child cruelty. Brewer's trial is scheduled for June 21st.

Copyright 2010 KPLC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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