This story has been updated to reflect an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter’s brief interaction with a juror that led to a motion for a mistrial.

Jurors weighing whether a Henry County couple murdered their 2-year-old foster child wrapped up a second day of deliberations without a verdict on Tuesday.

Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum are both charged in the 2015 death of Laila Daniel. The toddler died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, which split her pancreas in two and lacerated her liver, authorities say.

Tuesday’s proceedings were disrupted when the defense made a motion for a mistrial based on an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter’s conversation with a juror. The reporter and the juror spoke briefly outside the courtroom during the lunch break.

Back in the courtroom after lunch, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero said a juror reported that he was eating lunch, wearing a juror badge, when a member of the media approached and asked how far along they were. 

Amero asked the juror if he could continue to consider the case fairly. The juror said he could. Amero admonished the reporter but he denied the defense motion for a mistrial.

Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer / AJC

AJC reporter Alexis Stevens, who has been covering the trial, later provided a different account. She said her intentions were misunderstood. Stevens said she asked “How’s it going?” as a greeting and was not seeking information about deliberations.

The jury resumed deliberations.

In July 2015, the Rosenbaums took in Laila and her older sister, Millie. Four months later, Laila was dead. On Nov. 17, 2015, Jennifer Rosenbaum called 911 to report that the toddler was choking on a chicken nugget, according to investigators. 

Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum wait for closing arguments during their trial in front of Henry County Judge Brian Amero at Henry County Superior Court on July 26, 2019. Their trial began on July 8 in the death of 2-year-old foster child Laila Daniel. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)

But Laila’s little body told a different story, according to medical staff and the GBI. She had extensive bruising and died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen. At the time of Laila’s death, 4-year-old Millie also had bruises, but not as severe, according to testimony during the trial. 

The Rosenbaums have claimed Laila’s death was an accident and the result of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver being performed incorrectly. 

Jennifer Rosenbaum, a former law student and candidate for Henry County commissioner, faces charges of malice and felony murder, child cruelty, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Joseph Rosenbaum, who previously worked for the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, is charged with second-degree murder, accused of leaving Laila in his wife’s care when he allegedly knew she was abusing the child. 

The Rosenbaums face a total of 49 counts and are currently free on bond. 

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