The mother of a man accused in the death of his 2-year-old foster child testified Tuesday that she never saw injuries on the girl or her older sister.
“I never had any inkling at all that there were injuries to either one of them,” Mary Rosenbaum told the Henry County jury.
Rosenbaum described her son and daughter-in-law, Joseph and Jennifer Rosenbaum, as doting parents and said the sisters, Laila and Millie, loved them. She was among the witnesses called to testify on behalf of the Rosenbaums.
“They were very affectionate to Jen and Joseph,” Mary Rosenbaum said. “They loved Jen and Joseph. And Jen and Joseph were good parents.”
But when Laila Marie Daniel died on Nov. 17, 2015, investigators quickly turned the focus on her foster parents. Jennifer Rosenbaum called 911 to report that Laila was choking on a chicken nugget. Her lifesaving efforts failed, the foster mother said, and Laila died.
Paramedics noticed extensive bruising on the child, and medical staff at Piedmont Henry Hospital alerted police. An autopsy determined Laila died from blunt-force trauma to the abdomen, which split her pancreas in half and lacerated her liver. At the time of Laila’s death, 4-year-old Millie also had bruises and was removed from the Rosenbaums’ home.
Two weeks after Laila’s death, both Rosenbaums were arrested.
Jennifer Rosenbaum, a former 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.
Other witnesses also took the stand Tuesday, but not all knew the girls well. Amber Evans, a former friend of Jennifer Rosenbaum, told the court she couldn’t remember what Lillie and Millie looked like. The defense also called to the stand a former Walmart pharmacist who had one interaction with Jennifer Rosenbaum, but didn’t know which sister she had seen.
Late Monday, prosecutors wrapped up their case against the Rosenbaums after a GBI medical examiner testified.
Dr. Lora Darrisaw, who testified for approximately four hours, said Laila’s autopsy revealed no signs of choking. Instead, the doctor found dozens of injuries — including broken bones, bruises and lacerations — during the toddler’s autopsy. Darrisaw said it was blows to Laila’s abdomen strong enough to split her pancreas in half and cause a laceration on her liver that ultimately caused her death.
The trial is expected to resume Wednesday morning.
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