The trial of a man charged with second-degree murder in death of nine-month-old baby Kaleb McKay has entered its second month.
November saw testimony from a great variety of witnesses, including Kaleb’s mother, Jordan Brownell, who spoke in defence of the accused, Denim Henderson. Jurors also heard from investigators, first-responders and the family of the accused over the last few weeks.
Henderson himself testified December 2.
Kaleb was found unresponsive in his Robson Street, Oshawa home he shared with Brownell, Henderson and his sister on December 29, 2016.
Henderson had moved in the preceding September, which is when prosecutors allege Kaleb began to suffer the repeated injuries that would collectively result in his death.
First responders testified that when they arrived, they found Henderson in the apartment bathroom running water over McKay’s lifeless body in a vain attempt to resuscitate him.
DRPS Constable Tine Sanders, the responding officer that night, testified that Henderson, between sobs, cried “It’s all my fault” when police arrived. “This I remember specifically,” she said.
The paramedic on scene, Andrew Um, testified that after several CPR attempts and bringing McKay into the ambulance, there was only a flatline on the monitor indicating McKay had died.
Police initially treated the investigation as a sudden death, but an autopsy found Kaleb had suffered fractures in his skull, leg, arm, ribs and spine and bruises across his body. Some of the injuries were old enough that they had begun to heal.
After these findings Durham Police immediately began a homicide investigation and locked down the apartment.
Nearly 18 months later Henderson and Brownell were charged in Kaleb’s death, leaving Henderson, “shocked” according to his defence attorney. Henderson is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and failing to provide the necessities of life. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
DRPS spokesmen George Tudos explained the lengthy period prior to charges being laid. “Due to the nature of the injuries, there needed to be further time to investigate.”
Dr. Michael Pickup, a forensic pathologist, told the jury November 17 that because of the nature of Kaleb’s injuries it was impossible to isolate one as a “slam dunk” to explain his death. However, Pickup said he believed the injuries played a “significant role” in Kaleb’s death.”
The autopsy also revealed indicators that Kaleb could have suffered from a heart condition. Pickup said it was much more likely the injuries contributed to Kaleb’s death rather than any heart condition.
Pediatrician Dr. Emma Cory later testified that the bruises overall, considered in their totality, were “highly suspicious” and ruled out a suggestion the Kaleb could have hurt himself. “At the time of his death, he’s got so many fractures he’s unlikely to be mobile.”
Days later the jury watched a video interview between Henderson and investigator taken shortly after Kaleb’s death, still considered a sudden death by DRPS. Henderson was not a suspect at this point according to testimony from Detective Constable Paul Grigorio.
In the video Henderson says he and Kaleb had a normal day on December 29. He put Kaleb to bed in the early evening and left him there for three-to-four hours.
Henderson tells police when he went to check on Kaleb, “I put my hand down on his back and it was freezing…I was trying to give him CPR, but it wasn’t working. He was so cold.” This evidently led to Henderson bringing Kaleb to the tub to run warm water on Kaleb where he was found by Sanders.
Brownell began her testimony the next day. She said she had never seen Henderson grow impatient or raise his voice around her children. She insisted she had done nothing to harm Kaleb either, and the she was completely unaware of his extensive injuries.
When asked about specific injuries, Brownell said she noticed some bruising, “smaller than the tip of my pinky,” she said, on Kaleb’s forehead and some bruising on his chest.
She was also asked about red and yellow staining on Kaleb’s mattress. She claimed it was minor bleeding from a diaper rash and she had put Kaleb down without a diaper to let the rash heal.
These inconsistencies led Prosecutor Mareike Newhouse to suggest Brownell had used her testimony to protect Henderson. Brownell adamantly denied the suggestion. She said she had broken up with a previous partner over their impatience with children. She said Henderson was fine putting Kaleb to bed and fine when he returned.
The crown rested its case on November 26. The defense is calling numerous witness to the stand, including the mothers of both Brownell and Henderson, Dawn Brownell and Julie Gibbins respectively.
Both women described a good relationship between Henderson, McKay and Brownell’s daughter, then four. Gibbins said Henderson was “in pieces” when she arrived at the Robson Street home after a frantic phone call.
Finally, on December 2 Henderson took the stand. “I never did anything to hurt Kaleb,” he stated. He would reiterate this multiple times as he recounted a normal day off at home.
He said he had no knowledge of anyone else harming Kaleb and that if he’d known Kaleb was hurt, he would have taken him to the hospital.
He says he didn’t remember saying, “it’s all my fault,” as Sanders testified, but admitted he could have said it in reference to the long period he didn’t check on Kaleb after putting him to bed around three that afternoon.