Defense witnesses presented a different picture of Eddye Pittmon in a child cruelty case in Hall Superior Court Wednesday, portraying her as a skillful day care teacher.
“She has taken care of my children and I would pick her over anybody to take care of my children,” Crystal Summers said of Pittmon, who is accused of scalding a 16-month-old boy at a Clermont day care center in June 2014.
At one point, Pittmon’s lawyer, Troy Millikan, showed a series of pictures of Pittmon caring for Michelle Garcia’s young son.
“He was learning so many skills,” Garcia testified. “Every time I would go to pick him up, (Pittmon) would tell me the neat things he did that day. … He was growing quickly.”
“How do you feel now?” Millikan asked.
“We miss her,” Garcia said.
The defense testimony sharply contrasted how prosecution witnesses described Pittmon earlier in the week.
They said Pittmon was particularly strict toward Damon, testifying she would occasionally hit him with the back of a hairbrush or ruler and tell him that his mom didn’t love him and could not keep him clean.
“Had you witnessed how (Pittmon) treated Damon?” Millikan asked Garcia.
“The same as all the other children,” she said.
Summers said Pittmon “made (children) mind” and was stern, but then, “I like my kids to be disciplined.”
Pittmon is on trial this week facing aggravated battery and child cruelty charges.
According to her indictment, she is accused of seriously disfiguring Damon’s leg by putting hot water on him and causing him “cruel and excessive physical pain.”
Pittmon also is accused of not seeking medical attention for the burn, the indictment states.
On the day of the alleged scalding, Pittmon was “irate” when she discovered feces on the child’s back, Hall County Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva told jurors in his opening statement.
Under cross-examination by Sachdeva, defense witnesses said they weren’t aware that day care teachers had criticized Pittmon’s treatment of Damon.
“Would you still have the same opinion that (Pittmon) is a good day care worker based on the information you have now?” he asked Summers.
“Yes sir, I would,” she said.
Prosecutors put up a rebuttal witness, Martha Thompson, a former employee who testified that she fired Pittmon in September 2008 for giving a child Benadryl without proper forms filled out by the parent.
“That’s just an automatic termination for not following company and state policies,” Thompson said.
“She found another job real quick, didn’t she?” Millikan asked.
“Yes sir,” Thompson said.
“Because she’s a good day care worker, isn’t she?” Millikan asked.
“I didn’t have any problems other than that,” Thompson said.
Also charged in the case are Discovering Basics owner Minnie Sue Dupree and site director Tara Miller, both of Gainesville.
Dupree is charged with giving false statements to authorities, and Miller is charged with second-degree child cruelty, accused of not seeking medical attention for the child’s burn.