Local woman accused of abusing stepson takes stand

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Jaime Brooks Day, accused of physically abusing her stepson, took the stand in her own defense Tuesday afternoon. Day, 31,

is standing trial in 14th Judicial District Court on one count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

The defense is expected to finish

today, and prosecutor Lori Nunn will then cross-examine the defendant.

Day was arrested,

along with Murry Day, the boy’s father, in 2010 after authorities

said they found the 9-year-old child malnourished and bruised.

He reportedly weighed 38 pounds.

The boy testified last week that Day

starved him; hung him upside down by his ankles in the bathroom;

Saran-wrapped him to

his bed; burned his back with a sock full of rice; burned him with

a blowdryer; hit him with a dustpan; and threw a screwdriver

at him.

Under questioning from defense attorney

Walt Sanchez, Day said she never harmed the boy. “He’s my little boy,”

she said. Day

said he harmed himself, often hitting himself in the face with his

doorknob or a book. “We’d go to bed at night and wake up

and there would be new bruises,” she said.

Day disputed that she locked the boy in

his room with a dog leash tied to another door. She said she would tie a

rope to his

doorknob and the other end to a hangar that would rest over the

door of the next room in such a way that it would fall and

make a noise that she could hear over a baby monitor if he left

the room during the night. She showed the court how she would

do it in a homemade video shot in March 2010. She and her mother

had previously installed a battery-powered chime that would

ring if the door was opened, but the child would knock it down and

take the batteries out, she said.

The boy stuck the screwdriver in his own lip while bathing, she said. He called to her and she walked in to see the screwdriver

hanging from his lip, she told the jury.

The scar where he claims she hit him with a dustpan was from him cutting himself with scissors, she said. Again, he called

to her and she found him bleeding, she said.

She said the burn on the boy’s back was a wound he suffered when he jumped off the bed trying to hurt himself. In court Friday,

her nephew also testified that the boy hurt himself jumping off the bed. She said she was sitting in the living room when

she heard a loud noise.

Day said her nephew placed a heated sock full of rice, used as a heating pad, on the boy’s back as he lay watching TV. The

incident happened around 2009, but the wound remained in 2010 because the child would scratch it on the carpet.

Day said she never hung the child by a

hook in the bathroom or Saran-wrapped him to his bed. She said that

during court testimony

was the first time she heard that he claimed she forced him to eat

a handful of salt. The boy ate normally for a while, but

in the summer of 2009, he began to be more picky, Day said.

When Murry Day, who was often away working, returned home, the boy’s behavior worsened and he refused to eat anything but

Ramen noodles and grits, she said. The boy and his father did not have a relationship and the boy would tell him, “You’re

taking Mama J from me,” Jaime Day said.

She said she was concerned because the child was not eating.

Day said that communication with the boy’s school — which teachers and counselors testified last week was often to discuss

what he was eating — was actually about his behavior. She didn’t want him being rewarded for bad behavior with treats, she

said.

She regularly packed his lunch, at his request, and did not want to also pay for a school lunch, she said.

The Days hospitalized him in December

2009 because he stuck a metal coat hanger in his ear, first saying he

had done it because

his ear itched, then saying he had done it to quiet the voices,

she said. He was hospitalized again when he threw a fit, and

a third time after he stuck the screwdriver through his lip, Day

said.

She said she and her husband were

granted full custody of the boy in December 2008. She listed two

incidents with the child’s

biological mother: After he shot a child with a BB gun, an adult

held a handgun to the boy’s head; he suffered a broken arm,

but the biological mother did not have him treated.

She regularly gave the boy birthday parties, she said. In earlier testimony Tuesday, Karla Semien, a foster mother of the

boy, said he told her he wasn’t allowed to have birthday parties.

She said he had a super-hero-themed

birthday party for his fourth birthday; a party at Skate City for his

fifth birthday,;

a party at Millennium Park for his sixth birthday; a party at

Putt-Putt for his seventh birthday; and a “Madagascar 2” birthday

party for his eighth birthday. The Putt-Putt party was moved to

Petro Bowl because of rain, and he was allowed to start the

theater projector for the “Madagascar 2” party, she said.

A photo of him unwrapping a Power Wheel on his fourth birthday was shown in court.

In the fall of 2009, when he turned 9,

he said he did not want a birthday party and would urinate on any

presents he received,

she testified. Still, Day said, the family went to Logan’s

Roadhouse on his birthday. She said the boy also wrote, “I don’t

want anything at all,” 15 times on his 2009 Christmas list.

Sanchez presented the list as evidence.

Karla Semien, a foster mother who kept the boy after he was taken from the Days, said a worker with child services told her

the case was high-profile and that she needed to watch her back.

The boy, who was one of several children at her house in 2010, would eat “24 hours a day,” Semien said. The boy would look

in the pantry constantly to make sure there was food, she said.

One of other children told her he had

hidden food in a duffel bag and taken it to his room, she said. It was

early in the

morning and she went and got the bag and set it on the table. He

became upset and began screaming, yelling, hitting the wall,

clawing his face, biting himself and throwing furniture, she said.

His demeanor then became calm and he said, “I’m going to do to you like I did to Jaime,” Semien read from a journal she kept.

She asked him what he meant and he said he was going to say that she was clawing him and not feeding him, because that’s what

he did to Day so he could leave there and he now wanted to leave the Semien household, Semien said.

She said that because she couldn’t get him immediately hospitalized, she separated him from the other children and she or

her husband monitored him for the weekend.

She said he also acknowledged to her that he told one of the other children that he was going to say her husband, Darrell,

was the one hurting him. The child clawed his face, but never cut the skin, Semien said.

The boy would stand over the other

children while they were sleeping, Semien said. The child said he had

first heard a scratching

sound in his head, like TV, then began hearing voices, Semien

said.

He told her Day told him to act out in a

video she shot of him crying, Semien said. Semien said he also told her

that marks

on his ankles were from Day tying him up; that Day told him to do

jumping jacks in the hall; that Day had tried to drown him;

that he hadn’t been allowed to play outside in a while; that he

wasn’t allowed to have birthday presents or parties; that

Day had burned his back with a bag of rice; that she had kicked

him in the hallway; that she had thrown a screwdriver at him;

told him to act out at school; and had him wear long-sleeve shirts

and pants because he was so skinny.

The boy said he was worried that if Day got out of jail she would kill him, Semien said.