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Former Waynesboro woman testifies in her child abuse trial

August 22, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A former Waynesboro, Pa., woman charged with aggravated assault after her 3-year-old daughter was scalded in a bathtub spent about two hours on the witness stand Thursday in Franklin County Court.

Lallitra Coppedge, 34, of Greencastle, Pa., also is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and simple assault in the April 23, 2007, incident in which her daughter, Destiny, received second-degree burns to the lower half of her body.

Coppedge testified Thursday that she put Destiny in the bathtub at their King's Road home, then went to a bedroom to get her infant daughter ready for bed. She heard Destiny splashing and yelled at her to stop.

Coppedge testified that, a few minutes later, "I heard my baby scream, crazily scream."

She rushed to the bathroom, as did her boyfriend, Kelvin Fox, Coppedge testified.

"I noticed that her feet are red ... She looked like she was in pain," Coppedge testified. She wrapped her daughter's legs in a towel and Fox checked the Internet for information on treating burns, she testified.

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Coppedge testified that about 25 minutes elapsed between the child being scalded, treating her and driving to Waynesboro Hospital, a distance of about two miles.

Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sulcove cross-examined Coppedge about the timeline, noting that Coppedge testified Fox was watching the television show "24," which comes on at 9 p.m., but hospital records stated Destiny arrived at 11:03 p.m.

Coppedge testified she did not know at what point in the show she took Destiny upstairs.

The computer was seized by Washington Township police, and Abel Rios, a special agent for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, testified Wednesday that the computer had been used by someone to look up information at 10:19 p.m.

"I believe this was an inflicted injury," testified Dr. Michael Goldstein, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and a member of its Child Protection Team, which investigates possible child abuse cases.

Her injuries showed no signs of splashing, which a child would do if exposed to very hot water, Goldstein testified. Photos of the injuries showed straight demarcation lines for the burns on her legs and back.

In water of 140 degrees or more, the burns could have occurred in about five seconds, Goldstein testified. In water of 120 degrees, it might have taken between five and 10 minutes, he testified.

The girls also had loop-shaped bruises on her body, which Goldstein testified were "inflicted by an implement."

Destiny, who was in the hospital almost two months, has undergone 11 surgeries and faces more in the future, and her injuries caused permanent disfigurement, Goldstein testified.

The affidavit of probable cause stated that Fox's computer also showed that in the hours and days after the incident someone had "accessed several Web sites ... dealing with the methods medical personnel use to diagnose child abuse in burn patients."

Fox also was charged in the case, but the charges recently were dismissed, according to court records.

Closing arguments and jury deliberation are scheduled for today.

Both of Coppedge's children are in foster care, Coppedge testified.

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