Teacher testifies in Day's cruelty to a juvenile trial

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The third-grade teacher of a boy who prosecutors say was intensely abused by his stepmother testified in court Wednesday that

when she first met him he was very pale except for dark bruising on his face.

The bones in his hands, neck and face were “pronounced,” said Sheila Devillier, who said she taught the boy in the fall of

2009 before she left in late November on maternity leave. When she returned, he was not enrolled at the school.

Devillier was the last person to testify Wednesday in Jaime Brooks Day’s trial. The 31-year-old Day, 2841 Southern Ridge Road, is standing

trial on one count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

The boy, who was 9 years old at the time, was “small but very bright,” Devillier said. He told her he got the bruises trying

to ride his father’s bike, “but quickly changed the subject,” she said.

Devillier said that while the class was

walking down the hall one of the other children told her the boy was

bleeding from

his ear. His bruises sent up red flags, and when she met his

stepmother at an open house the first night of school she decided

to keep a detailed daily log about the boy, she said.

Day was nice to her but perturbed she

had taken the boy to the counselor about his bleeding ear, Devillier

said. While the

boy stood by with his head down, Day told Devillier that he had a

personality disorder, was manipulative and a liar, and did

things to make others feel sorry for him, the teacher said.

Devillier said that during her time with the boy, she found none of those things to be true. Day did seem to be a concerned

parent, Devillier said.

The boy, who turns 13 today, took the

stand through video feed Tuesday. He told the court that Day beat him

and starved him

and told him to tell others he was hurting himself. He said Day

forced him to eat his own feces, hung him upside down in the

bathroom and had one of her biological children help her Saran

wrap him to his bed.

When he was taken to the hospital in March 2010, he was bruised, had a burn mark on his back and ligature marks on his ankles,

and at 38 pounds, was so malnourished hair had begun to grown all over his body, Dr. Edgar McCanless testified Tuesday.

The prosecution has called nine people to testify and is expected to call more today. Judge Clayton Davis told the 12-person

jury he hoped to turn the case over to them by Tuesday. Court will be closed Monday for Veterans Day.

On the second day of school, the other children told Devillier the boy was eating in the bathroom, she said. He initially

lied to her about it, but later came to her during recess and apologized for lying and said he was eating an apple because

he was “greedy,” Devillier said.

The boy told his teacher he loved food;

Devillier, who was pregnant at the time, responded she loved food, too,

she said.

“He said he was different. He said he was greedy and all the food

had to be locked away or he would sneak in and steal it,”

she said.

Devillier said that one Monday when he arrived at school, he wasn’t walking very well and had fresh bruises. One looked like

a handprint on his face, she said. At lunch he asked other children for any uneaten food off their plates, she said.

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Walt Sanchez, she said she reported the bruise to the front office and was told

child services was called.

Day often sent her notes telling her

the boy was only to eat what was in his lunchbox and nothing else — no

treats, no food

from other children and no food from the cafeteria, Devillier

said. Day told her the boy had decided he wanted to bring his

own lunch rather than eat in the cafeteria, she said.

There were times when the boy’s

lunchbox was empty or only had an apple in it, Devillier said. When she

called Day, the boy’s

stepmother told her she was tired of defending herself to the

school and that he could have eaten the food out of the lunchbox

on his way to school or in the bathroom, Devillier said.

Under cross-examination, Devillier said she could not confirm whether he had eaten or disposed of the food before she checked

his lunchbox.

As she got closer to maternity leave,

she began to ready the students for her departure, she said. The boy

began acting up

the closer she got to leaving, she said. One day, he crawled under

a table and refused to come out, although he did his work

under the table, she said.

When the boy soiled his pants one day,

she sent him to the office to call for new clothes, she said. New

clothes never came,

although she was not personally in the office to see whether he

made the phone calls, she said. Day said she had not received

a phone call, said Holly Fontenot, a counselor at the school.

Devillier said she overheard him at recess one day telling two other students not to be afraid of him, that he had to be in

trouble and had to do something to get a bad mark.

After she left on Nov. 20, she said she

saw him only once more — when he was picking something up from the

school, she said.

“He appeared distant, small, fragile, kept his head down and

didn’t make much eye contact,” Devillier said. “But he did let

me hug him.”

Sanchez presented her with a

risk-factors list that said the boy stole, had eating problems,

distorted the truth, was withdrawn,

had little curiosity, lacked empathy and lacked joy. She said she

disagreed with many of those and that she had no idea where

the list came from because it had no markings of the Calcasieu

Parish School Board.

She said she “wouldn’t agree” that he

was defiant; “definitely” disagreed that he lacked empathy; said he was

in pain but

never seemed joyless; never saw him hurt himself or steal; and

that he wasn’t manipulative or an attention seeker. She said

she “definitely disagreed” that he had low curiosity because when a

science professor from McNeese came to the school, “he

loved it.”

The boy missed nearly every Friday and was absent 40 times and had three tardies in the fall of 2009, Fontenot said. She said

she was told the boy missed Fridays because he was attending counseling.

Day would call the school four days out of five, Fontenot said, often to tell the school that the boy was only to eat what

she packed for him.

Dr. Rachel Chatters, the boy’s doctor from 2005-09, said an “ultimate alarm” went off because the boy’s growth was not

progressing.