Detective Testifies in Baby’s Oven Death

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

DAYTON, Ohio – A woman accused of killing her daughter by microwaving the newborn in an oven told police she was drunk, but couldn’t recall doing anything that caused the child’s burns, according to testimony Thursday.

China Arnold, 26, is charged with aggravated murder in the Aug. 30, 2005, death of her month-old daughter, Paris Talley. She has pleaded not guilty.

At a pretrial hearing, detective Michael Galbraith testified that Arnold told him during questioning then: “If I hadn’t gotten so drunk, I guess my baby wouldn’t have died.”

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But questioned by defense attorney Jon Paul Rion, Galbraith acknowledged that Arnold told him she didn’t know how the baby suffered the burns, and that she had nothing to do with it that she could recall.

Galbraith said Arnold told him she arrived home in the early morning hours after drinking, fell asleep and was awakened at 2:30 a.m. by the baby’s crying. She said she warmed a bottle in the microwave oven on the counter, tried to give it to the baby, changed the child’s diaper and then fell asleep on the couch with the baby on her chest, Galbraith said.

Arnold said she and her three children _ ages 7, 6 and 3 _ were the only ones in the apartment until her boyfriend arrived several hours later and noticed something was wrong with the baby, Galbraith said.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge John Kessler ruled that prosecutors can use some of Arnold’s statements at trial. He said he would decide later whether other statements and certain physical evidence would be admitted.

The coroner concluded that the injuries to Arnold’s baby could have been caused only by the child being cooked in a microwave oven, according to prosecutor Mathias Heck Jr., who is seeking the death penalty.

Rion has said Arnold took the baby to the hospital after finding her unconscious at home. He said she told hospital officials she did not know what happened to the child.

Galbraith said DNA matching the baby was found in the microwave, but he acknowledged that the DNA evidence doesn’t establish who killed the child.

“That microwave was the murder weapon,” he said. “The burns themselves were horrendous.”

A service of the Associated Press(AP)