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5/25/05 Mother says baby didn't cry

BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Tulsa World (Final Home Edition),
Page A11 of News


The mother of a toddler who burned to death on a furnace grate says she never heard him scream. Jeannie Henderson gave no reason for why she couldn't hear her baby scream and cry while he was being burned over a floor furnace, a Tulsa police investigator said Tuesday. The distance from a ventilation hole in the furnace to the arm of a sofa where Henderson was sleeping was measured at five feet, Detective Darren Carlock said. In her videotaped interview with Carlock -- played in court -- Henderson insisted that "my baby didn't cry." "If he had cried, I would have heard him," Henderson told Carlock during that December 2003 taped interview. Carlock replied that nothing was wrong with 8-month-old Christian Marten's lungs and throat and that there was nothing to keep him from crying. Jurors spent about 90 minutes in court watching the taped interview Tuesday, although distorted sound quality made it difficult to understand much of what was said, particularly when Henderson spoke in a soft voice. The tape showed that Henderson -- who sat quietly at the defense table -- was in tears during much of the taped session. A couple of times Carlock left the interview room, and the only action for a matter of minutes was her loud crying. Henderson, 20, is on trial for second-degree murder in the Dec. 14, 2003, death of Christian, which resulted from "extensive thermal injuries," a medical examiner reported. The baby's walker got stuck in the grate of a floor furnace at the family's home at 1933 S. Indianapolis Ave. Henderson is also on trial on two other felony counts -- child neglect and possession of methamphetamine in the presence of children younger than 12 -- and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. The neglect count pertains to Christian's sister -- then-3-year-old Katelyn Henderson -- and hinges upon allegations that Katelyn saw her baby brother burn to death because the mother and her co-defendant, Jerry Lee Marten, used methamphetamine in their home and passed out. District Attorney Tim Harris and Assistant District Attorney Dana Kuehn rested their case Tuesday. Defense lawyers Patrick Adams and Thomas Mortensen are expected to present evidence Wednesday when the trial resumes in District Judge Tom Thornbrugh's courtroom. Carlock said testing, conducted with the assistance of the Tulsa Fire Department, showed a heat measurement of 294 degrees exiting the floor furnace. Police recovered skin from the grating, evidence indicated. Detective Leland Ashley said police found some methamphetamine residue in a bedroom at the house. Jurors heard previous testimony that Marten twice obtained methamphetamine from another man on the night of Dec. 12, 2003. A woman who said she spent time with Marten and Henderson on Dec. 12 and 13 indicated Friday that she used methamphetamine and saw the defendants use it, as well. When cross-examined by Adams, Carlock said he has "no idea" how much methamphetamine Henderson used. Dr. Andrew Sibley, a forensic pathologist, said he ruled the manner of Christian's death an accident "based upon convention as a medical examiner." That determination "is not a judgment regarding culpability, from a legal standpoint, of caretakers or others," his report says. The murder charge alleges that the defendants engaged in imminently dangerous conduct and showed disregard for human life, although "without any premeditated design" to cause death. Marten, 24, faces a trial later on the same counts.

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