On the day of Kaylee Kipp’s death, her older sisters also had bruises and burns that a nurse practitioner with the Edmondson-Telford Center for Children found to be “consistent” with injuries caused by abuse.
It was one of the more severe cases Heather Hayes had seen, she told a Hall County jury Wednesday.
Hayes testified in Hall County Superior Court as a witness for prosecutors who are seeking to convict Stephen West of murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 18-month-old daughter, Kaylee.
Kaylee died in June 2011, a death an autopsy blamed on blunt force trauma to the head. Her body was reportedly cold and stiff by the time emergency responders were called to the scene.
West faces charges of malice murder, aggravated assault, cruelty to a child in the first degree and two counts of felony murder.
Deanna Kipp also faces similar charges and an additional count each of felony murder and cruelty to a child.
Hayes was one of several witnesses called as prosecutors began to lay out their case against West.
One of Kipp’s younger daughters also took the stand, and testified that West had “tortured” her and her sisters.
The girl testified facing away from West, telling the court that she was “kind of” scared.
“He beated us,” the 5-year-old said. “I don’t really like him. I forgive him.”
Hayes, who examined the girl and her older sister on the day of Kaylee’s death, testified that each of the girls had multiple visible injuries.
The oldest, who was 7 at the time, had two burns Hayes said were “consistent” with cigarette burns.
She also had a bruise on her hip.
“I was spanked really hard by Stephen,” Hayes said the girl told her as she examined the bruise. “I was supposed to be in bed when he got home.”
The younger of the two had bruises behind her right ear and on her neck, which Hayes described in court as a “highly suspicious” injury.
Most accidental injuries do not occur in those places, she said.
The girl also had bruises under her eyes and on her buttocks. Hayes testified that during her examination of the 5-year-old, the older one walked in as she was photographing bruises and offered an explanation. Referencing the neck bruises, the girl said West would hold the girls’ head down in a pillow.
“‘We were very bad but we’re really good now,’” Hayes said the girl told her.
Prosecutors also showed a video of a police interview with the older daughter taken earlier in the evening on the day of Kaylee’s death.
The girl told Gainesville police Capt. Carol Martin about finding her sister dead in a playpen.
“She was very, very cold,” the 7-year-old told Martin.
In the interview, the girl tells Martin that she had not eaten breakfast. She also says her first meal of the day was the pizza police served her at the station.
Martin said the girl showed little emotion in the interview, which she said took place sometime around 8 p.m. on the day of Kaylee’s death.
In the interview, the girl tells Martin she thinks her sister’s death might have something to do with bumping her head at their grandmother’s house.
“When she got the cut, we were supposed to bring her to the doctor, and I think that’s why she died,” the 7-year-old said.
Investigators who later examined the child’s body said they found “a small scrape above her right eye on top of her forehead” in addition to “other small scratches and red areas.”
Police accused the couple of assaulting Kaylee with an unspecified “blunt object” sometime between June 11 and 12, causing swelling of the brain and death.
Court documents allege Deanna Kipp also “willfully deprive(d) the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the health and well-being of Kaylee Kipp was jeopardized by failing to seek medical care for the child after injury.”
And in the video interview played in court, the girl also talks to Martin about the demeanor of her mother’s live-in boyfriend, to whom she often refers as “my daddy.”
The girl says that West would become angry when he ran out of cigarettes.
“If he smokes, then that’s what keeps him calm,” the girl said.
She also tells Martin that she was “good” before she met West, but after meeting him, she “started being really bad.”
West, she said, would “spank” her.
“It hurts really bad when Stephen gives us spankings,” she said. “It hurts his hand.”
West’s trial continues today in Judge Andrew Fuller’s courtroom.