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  1. #1
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    CA - Ella VanLeeuwen, 17 mos, dies of head trauma, Reedley, 21 Feb 2009

    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  2. #2
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    Closing arguments:

    http://www.ksee24.com/news/local/Mar...190469161.html

    The jury will begin deliberating Monday morning. Martzen is charged with second degree murder and child abuse. A jury could find her guilty of manslaughter.

    Sorry to post this when the trial is wrapping up, but I started reading about this only a couple of days ago. The incident happened Feb. 21, 2009. It really interests me because the baby-sitter, Megan Martzen, was trusted by many people who have testified to her character. Martzen would have been 18 or 19 at the time. Ella died of a head injury, which Martzen claimed happened when she fell off the bed. There are so many conflicting statements in the case.
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  3. #3
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    From the first article I posted:
    > snipped <

    Martzen is on trial for murder and child abuse causing the death of the 17-month-old, who Martzen said was injured in a fall from her bed on Feb. 21, 2009. The jury also could consider involuntary manslaughter.

    But, Dupras said, "We know that Ella was beaten to death."

    > snipped <

    He said Martzen inflicted two, and possibly three, blows to Ella's head and that one of the strikes was with a man-made object that has not been found.

    He told the jury that Martzen intentionally punched Ella in the stomach, which caused additional bruising to her ribs. "It was a continuous assault, a continuous attack that led to this little girl's death," Dupras said.
    That sounds pretty extreme for an experienced, well-liked baby-sitter who was supposedly angry with a toddler.


    In Martzen's defense:
    > snipped <

    He also said that Martzen concocted a story about Ella falling from her booster seat when her brother pushed her over while the child's mother, Deniele VanLeeuwen, was supervising her children a day earlier. Defense experts said such an injury could cause a skull fracture that may not immediately produce symptoms.

    But VanLeeuwen denied the booster seat incident ever happened.

    Martzen's lawyer said she couldn't have made up a story about a booster seat fall.

    Jeff Hammerschmidt said Martzen told her previous lawyer about the fall a day before Ella's autopsy revealed rib injuries that an expert later said were consistent with a booster seat being pushed over.
    Last edited by Indy Anna; 02-10-2013 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Fix qoutes
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  4. #4
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    Also:
    > snipped <

    Hammerschmidt said a prosecution expert, Dr. Gregory Reiber, testified that a booster seat fall was an "uncanny" match for Ella's rib injuries and could have caused the initial skull fracture that built up cranial pressure before Ella's fall from Martzen's bed.

    Another expert hired by the defense pointed to the "second fall" issue, which shows that a person can have a serious head injury and remain lucid for a day or two before collapsing, Hammerschmidt said.

    He reminded the jury that Dr. Khaled Tawansy said the first fall could have taken place 12 to 48 hours before the fall from Martzen's bed, allowing the pressure in her skull to build until Ella collapsed.
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  5. #5
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    This article discusses the witnesses who testified to Martzen's character and trustworthiness as a baby-sitter, including the VanLeeuwens, a children's pastor and a police sergeant:

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/02/01/...is-police.html

    There is more about Martzen here:

    http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?se...cal&id=8973529
    > snipped <

    During her testimony she told the jury she's an experienced babysitter having completed special training during high school.
    She also worked as a teacher's aide and taught English to young children at a local church.
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  6. #6
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    Here is another article discussing the testimony of medical experts:

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/01/31/...-toddlers.html

    Sorry for so many posts. I keep finding articles with additional information, while I'm looking for an article I read the other day which claims that Ella had also hit her head on the coffee table (in the VanLeeuwen's home) the previous week, and that Daniele VanL (Ella's mother) asked Martzen to bathe Ella because she was uncooperative with bathing since slipping in the tub at home. Mr. VanL also acknowledged that Ella often fell while playing with her brother, who was a little older. Can anyone else find the article? TIA
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  7. #7
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    The murder trial of Megan Martzen wound down Wednesday with Martzen challenging accounts of her interview with police, and the prosecution trying to raise questions about her credibility.

    > snipped <

    On Wednesday, Martzen resumed her testimony, saying she thought a transcript of a police interview with her contained errors. She denied making statements that police documented.

    > snipped <

    Martzen said police "may have heard me wrong. ... I don't agree with the transcript." But she also said she never told police the transcript was inaccurate.
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  8. #8
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    A synopsis of the trial, discussing accusations against Martzen and claims in her defense:

    http://www.kmjnow.com/pages/landing/...271&feedID=806

    Dupras said the babysitter repeatedly changed little portions of her story during various testimonies to better fit her defense each time she took the stand.

    In listening to her recorded interview with lead investigator, Mark Diedrich, Martzen said that Van Leeuwen had been active and running around the morning she was hurt; even said the toddler had been talking to her doll when Martzen originally put her down for a nap.

    But then during a later testimony, the babysitter claimed that Van Leeuwen was fussy and refused to go to sleep.

    Martzen, along with her mother April Roque, who testified Friday, also said that the babysitter had not gotten sick outside CRMC, despite four other witnesses - all friends and family of the Van Leeuwen's - testified that they all had seen her throwing up in a flower bed.

    > snipped <

    Dupras also brought up testimonies by several of Van Leeuwen's treating physicians, who said the toddler's injuries were consistent with a massive force trauma, not a short fall.

    Likewise, he argued that Van Leeuwen's bruising on her face was caused by a hard, man-made object, not the carpet on Martzen's bedroom floor.

    > snipped <

    When asked about her investigation, Ortiz had said the police department was "trying to prove the baby was okay" when she was dropped off at the Martzen's home, and labeled her report as "suspicious child abuse death investigation".

    Hammerschimdt also reminded the jury that Martzen was completely cooperative with investigators, who consequently failed to follow up with her claim that she had been on the Internet when the baby fell off her bed.

    According to Hammerschmidt, Martzen had no chance to explain what happened due to sloppy, biased police work and a premature decision to declare Van Leeuwen's death a homicide by child abuse before the toddler's autopsy is even completed.

    However Van Leeuwen's mother, Deniele, was allowed a second opportunity during her interview with police at the hospital, to explain older bruising on her daughter's face, which the toddler sustained after running into a coffee table the week before.

    > snipped <

    Deniele testified Wednesday that she remembered telling law enforcement and doctors at Community Regional Medical Center that her daughter had bumped her head on the family's coffee table the week before.

    Her husband Todd also testified Wednesday, saying that he remembered telling authorities that his daughter and son often roughhoused when they played together.

    He also said that his kids ran into things like the coffee table sometimes during play.

    Two of Deniele's long-time friends testified having been around Van Leeuwen between the mid-morning and early afternoon the day before the fatal incident, and said that the toddler was active, happy, and had an eager appetite.

    Todd's sister, Tammy Isaak, also retook the stand and testified that she had stopped by unannounced before the Van Leeuwen children were dropped off at Martzen's for the day, and said that her niece appeared perfectly normal, showing no signs of pain or discomfort.

    > snipped <

    Yet while Van Leeuwen's inner cranial pressure was outrageous when she arrived at the hospital, Tawansey said it should not have been that high that quickly after she fell off Martzen's bed.

    He testified that amount of pressure would have had to build up over time, at least 12 hours from an addition impact, before her levels could reach the life-threatening pressure the toddler was hitting at Community Regional Medical Center.

    However previous testimony by Van Leeuwen's aunt, Tammy Isaak, a registered nurse, revealed that the toddler have been acting perfectly normal before she had been dropped off at Martzen's home, showing no signs of pain or unusual behavior characteristic of recent head trauma.

    But her cousin, Rod Harms, also testified earlier in the week for the prosecution, saying that Van Leeuwen had been fussy and had difficulty walking on her own the night before her fatal fall.
    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."
    - Henry David Thoreau

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/02/14/...n-martzen.html

    mistrial declared, seems most of jury did not believe she was guilty of murder


  11. #11
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    From April 2013:

    http://abc30.com/archive/9084028/

    After a hung jury mistrial in her murder case, Megan Martzen agreed to a plea deal. She accepted a felony conviction in exchange for a sentence of 3 years probation. It's a deal with no winners and a left a lot of hard feelings that are still raw.

    Martzen is officially not a murderer, but by pleading "no contest" to involuntary manslaughter, she admitted to playing a role in the death of Ella VanLeeuwen four years ago.



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