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Mother on trial in son's death: 'I just lost it'

September 02, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A West Virginia University pathologist testified Wednesday during the trial of a Hedgesville, W.Va., woman charged in her son's death that there were "signs of abuse" to the 7-month-old boy who died Aug. 19, 2008.

Matrina Schmidt, who performed the autopsy on Skylar Boggs, testified in Berkeley County Circuit Court that fractures and bruises, along with trauma-induced brain hemorrhaging, led her to rule the boy's death as a homicide caused by blunt force trauma.

Monica W. Boggs, 20, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was indicted in February on charges of death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and gross child neglect creating substantial risk of bodily injury.

Schmidt testified she could not estimate how much force was needed to cause a large fracture depicted in a black-and-white photograph shown to jurors Wednesday.

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"An infant's skull is not as mineralized as an adult skull," Schmidt said. "It's going to take a little more force" to fracture it because the cranial bones are more pliable, she said.

Schmidt's findings and two recorded statements made by Boggs to police were presented as evidence Wednesday. Boggs' mother, three of her siblings, her boyfriend and a psychiatrist also testified. Boggs did not to testify in her own defense.

In one of the interviews with West Virginia State Police, Boggs said she threw her son in his crib "pretty hard" the day before he died after becoming frustrated with the child's fussy behavior.

"I just lost it," Boggs told Sgt. David E. Boober in the first of two taped interviews the night of Aug. 20, 2008. "I belong in jail because I killed my son, but I didn't mean to do it."

In a taped interview with Boober, Boggs said she threw a baby bottle toward the boy while he was in his crib two days before she threw him in the crib, because the child was crying and not being cooperative and she became upset. That incident resulted in a black eye, which she lied about to her mother and boyfriend, she told Boober.

Boggs told police she was stressed at the time with the circumstances of her life. She was jobless, financially strapped and wanted to go back to college.

"I can't do anything because of the baby," Boggs told Boober in the first recorded interview.

After admitting that she caused the boy's injuries, Boggs revised the timeline that she first gave police for causing the black eye and throwing the boy in the crib. Boggs first said both incidents happened on the same day, but Boober testified that investigators realized her first account didn't fit with other evidence they obtained in the investigation.

Boggs' boyfriend, who was not the boy's biological father, testified that he noticed the child had "a weird look" on his face and his eyes were "kind of bugged" the night before he died.

He said he also noticed the boy appeared to "daze off" and his mouth was open and his cheeks were puffed. The boy also pulled at his ears, he said.

Jurors were expected to hear closing arguments today.

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