LISBON - Miranda Todd, the 24-year-old woman accused of killing her baby, Derek Dennison, chose Thursday not to take the stand in her own defense.
However, the Morning Journal, a sister newspaper of the Salem News, now has been granted access to some of the statements she gave to investigators at the hospital on the night the 7-month-old boy died. Jurors heard the taped audio recordings last Friday and were allowed to view transcripts of the statements to follow along. The audio statements were taken in a concrete room in the hospital and were of poor quality.
Judge Scott Washam initially denied the a request for the transcripts. However on Tuesday afternoon he ruled that after researching three cases he determined the Journal was entitled to view the transcripts. During breaks in testimony on Wednesday and Thursday, the 76 pages were reviewed.
In initial statements to investigators, Todd had problems giving her address, at first telling them she lived on Charlton Road, Lisbon, the address which she had also used to apply for cash assistance, testimony later revealed. She claimed she had lived on McCracken Road years ago, but testimony by Greg Dennison revealed she had lived with him there until sometime in early June.
She told investigators the baby had injuries from previously resting his head against the crib and lying on a chain link toy. At one point an investigator pointed out to Todd his injuries did not happen in the Pack N Play and were not caused by the crib. They told her they needed to know what happened, and she responded only by crying.
They asked her if others would tell them her other children had unexplained bruises, and she said no.
Throughout the two statements Todd denied she would hurt her children. She described one incident with her daughter, Aubrey, when she was small and she pulled her out of a bathtub and the child slipped from her while she was reaching for the lotion. The child landed in the bassinet, but Todd expressed how terrible it made her feel.
Todd told investigators Derek could roll everywhere and was mobile, but during the trial others said he could not.
Todd at first in the statements claimed she was with him all day on the day he died, then admitted to going for a walk for about 30 minutes at about 7 p.m. When asking her about the day he died, investigators questioned if Derek had stopped eating or became lethargic, which Todd said he had not.
Within the first two statements, Todd at one point said if someone did hurt Derek it had to be Kayli Stiffler or Steven Van Pelt, her roommates. She claimed Stiffler yelled at Joel, the then-4-year-old son of Stiffler and Van Pelt, and said Stiffler missed him when he spent time at his grandmother's house but then became frustrated when he returned.
Todd also at one point said Van Pelt became upset when a guy called the house and Stiffler went out onto the balcony. He threw the phone and hit the wall. Another time she said he ripped the phone out of the wall in the kitchen.
She also described Van Pelt as controlling at one point during the second interview, reading her online messages and questioning anytime she went for a walk by herself.
Todd was asked about hiding the bruises on Derek from people and whether or not she would do it to protect Van Pelt.
"There is no love greater than what there is between a mother and a child," Todd had told investigators, "Boyfriend or not."
When asked about her concerns, Todd had said she had just the day before became aware she needed to get out of the place she was staying because every time she left Derek in his crib he was getting hurt and every time she left him in the living room he was getting hurt. She described the child as nervous around Van Pelt and when asked how a baby showed nervousness responded by becoming tense in your arms or bringing up his arms and "kinda shaking."
By the end of the second statement Todd was asking for justice and closure.
"Maybe I didn't do everything like I should have done," Todd admitted to investigators, "and I see that."