The state rested its case today in the trial against a Conyers man accused of killing his girlfriend's child in 2011, leaving jurors with vivid images of the brutal injuries the toddler endured before his death.
Cayden Allen, who was nearly 2-years-old at the time, had only lived with his mother and Sims at Arbor Creek Apartments on Main Street for 11 days before the April 8, 2011 incident. His mother had recently gained custody of the child, who had previously been living with his grandparents in Kentucky. The couple had been together for about a year.
On Thursday the defense, led by attorney Daniel Partain, will attempt to disprove the state's claim that James Sims, 24, caused the death of Cayden Allen by beating him on April 8, 2011. Sims has maintained the baby fell and hit the back of his head while Sims was watching him and the mother, Sims' girlfriend, was at work.
Cayden Allen died three days after he was injured.
Testimony given today by emergency responders, doctors and the medical examiner described a violent assault involving multiple blows to the front and side of the infant's head along with trauma to the child's genital area.
The baby's mother, Trista Myneer, and her sister testified this morning for the prosecution with both women describing separate incidents each had witnessed involving Sims and Cayden Allen.
Trista Myneer testified that Sims had spanked the child once and she had threatened to take her son and leave if it occurred again.
Her sister, Nekia Myneer, testified that she once heard Sims yell at the child and tell him that he would spank him if he didn't eat.
Testifying Wednesday afternoon were three medical experts who became involved with the case once Cayden Allen was transported to Rockdale Medical Center following the 911 call around 6:15pm on April 8, 2011. Dr Gregory Pine was first to examine the completely unconscious infant when he arrived at the emergency room before being airlifted to Egleston. Dr. Pine said the baby's breathing sounded like snoring, which he said was indicative of a severe brain injury, and he had bruising and swelling to the head.
"He was almost dead," Dr. Pine testified. "He would have died soon if we had not slowed down his death by breathing for him essentially and putting him on a ventilator." He also said the injuries did not appear to be accidental and appear to have been inflicted within the previous hour or two.
Next to testify today was Dr. Jordan Greenbaum of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. An expert in forensic pathology and child maltreatment, Dr. Greenbaum said her examination on the morning of April 9, 2011 of a deeply comatose, very ill Cayden Allen revealed numerous injuries. She testified the infant had bruising and trauma on his face and scalp, the top of the head, his forehead, his hip, the pubic and genital region, his shoulder and his back. Cayden Allen also had dot-like areas of bleeding on back of each eye.
"The child is almost three so he is going to have some bruising on him," Dr. Greenbaum told the court. "One would expect bruising on his shins, but we don't expect to see a lot of bruising on protected areas. It is very unusual to have that much bruising on the child. There was no good explanation for all those injuries. "She said her opinion was there were multiple severe impacts to the head and the circumstances surrounding the injuries disprove the story told by Sims.
Last to testify was Dr. Geoffry Smith of the DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office who ruled the death of Cayden Allen a homicide after his autopsy found a hemorrhage occupied most of the scalp and the infant's brain was "distinctly abnormal and very swollen."
"In the absence of any other explanation these are traumatic brain injuries," Dr. Smith to the jury and added that the sort of injuries Cayden Allen had were comparable to a high-impact auto accident.
"This child was assaulted by another individual," Dr. Smith testified. "This is not a child that is going to sustain these injuries, cry a little bit, and then get up and speak." He ruled the cause of death as blunt force head trauma with delayed complications.
As part of their evidence prosecutors also showed jurors text messages between Sims and Trista Allen sent on the day of the incident. Conyers Police Detective Kenneth Swift briefly took the stand to testify about the text messages, which started that afternoon with discussions about a problem with the car and ended with Sims texting Myneer "I messed up."
Sims is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and cruelty to children in the first degree and could face life in prison if he is convicted. His mother has been at the courthouse all week and is expected to testify for the defense.
The case is being tried in Rockdale Superior Court Judge David Irwin's courtroom with Assistant District Attorneys Dabney Kentner and Paul Stalcup prosecuting.