WORCESTER — Gardner police officers and the doctor who treated 2-year-old Raelynn T. Mascal at the hospital the day she died testified yesterday in Worcester Superior Court that the toddler’s face was bruised.
Their testimony came in the murder trial of Michelle L. Lepkowski, 35, formerly of 55 Grant St., Gardner, who is accused of killing her child on May 18, 2007.
Deputy Police Chief Rock Barrieau recalled being sent to the Grant Street apartment where he found the unresponsive child propped up on a couch. He said the home was in total disarray.
The little girl had no pulse and “kind of bruising around her eye area,” the deputy chief said.
He recalled that Ms. Lepkowski was on the phone when police arrived. While speaking to another officer, she allegedly said the child had fallen from a merry-go-round at Pulaski Playground the day before, Chief Barrieau testified.
Raelynn died from blunt force injuries and shaken baby syndrome after being brought to Heywood Hospital in Gardner, authorities allege.
Assistant District Attorney Paula J. Frasso is accusing the mother of trying to cover up her actions that led to Raelynn’s death by telling police the child fell at the playground.
Defense lawyer Barry P. Wilson repeatedly questioned officers about when the scene was secured and whether the home was searched for other people.
The police officers testifying in court yesterday said they did not see anyone else in the house, but did not check every room. Officer John Lawrence was placed at the scene to secure it, but there may have been some lag time.
Police noted that Officer Lawrence, the school resource officer, was called to a bomb scare at the high school while police were at Grant Street attending to the child.
Mr. Wilson contends that Ms. Lepkowski’s boyfriend, Luke Malizia, was alone with the child for about three hours before the mother called 911. He said Mr. Malizia was given a deal to testify against Ms. Lepkowski in the case.
Officer Lawrence, who testified that he arrived at the apartment about the same time as Chief Barrieau, said the “lifeless” child was on the couch. Ms. Lepkowski was on the phone.
“I’m a bad mother. I should have brought her to the emergency room last night,” Ms. Lepkowski said over the phone, according to the officer. Officers testified they did not know who was on the other end of the phone.
“She was not overly emotional — kind of odd for the situation,” Officer Lawrence testified.
Dr. John Skrzypczak, who directed the team working on the child at Heywood Hospital, testified that the child was intubated because she was not breathing. She “flat lined” and doctors tried to save her life.
A half-hour after arriving at the hospital, she was pronounced dead.
The doctor found Raelynn’s body was bruised in several areas, including the chest, rib cage, abdomen, back and buttocks.
In opening statements earlier this week, Ms. Frasso said evidence would show Ms. Lepkowski was jobless, depressed, frustrated and unable to cope with the difficulties of raising a child as a single mother. She claims the fatal injuries were inflicted when a spanking turned into a beating.
Mr. Malizia, 24, is prepared to testify that that Ms. Lepkowski screamed at and spanked her daughter at his former home at 25 Bear Hill Road, Gardner, the day before the child died.
Mr. Malizia is charged with reckless endangerment of a child and being an accessory, after the fact, to assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury in the case.
Mr. Wilson asked state police crime scene services members why they did not take pictures at 25 Bear Hill Road during the investigation. Testimony continued yesterday afternoon and will resume today.