At the start of a jury trial charging Kelly M. Kline, 34, of 4599 S. Firestone Road, Shreve, with murder, defense attorney John Johnson Jr. said toddler Ella Young’s death March 29, 2011, was caused by an injury that started with a fall at home that got progressively worse.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Williams said Kline caused Ella Young’s death by violently shaking her, causing injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.
Johnson and Williams said they will both provide medical testimony through the course of the jury trial. Williams said doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital and the Summit County coroner’s office will show that Ella’s injuries could only have happened in a short period of time.
“Kline was the only adult in the home from 8:30 a.m. til everything broke loose,” Williams said. Williams continued to state that Ella’s injuries were of the kind that develop symptoms immediately and “are noticeable.”
Johnson said testimony from forensic pathologist John Plunkett will show that Ella died from a head injury causing progressive swelling on the brain that came to a critical state March 28.
“Kelly Kline is no murderer,” Johnson said. “But this 34 year old mother of three is on trial because she happened to be the unfortunate last person to be with Ella Young when she had her final, respiratory collapse.”
Ella’s mother, Michelle Young, testified Monday that she hired Kelly Kline as a baby sitter for Ella and her second child, Ethan, in August 2010. In March 2011, Ella and Ethan were being watched in Kline’s home while Michelle was at work in her job as a first-grade elementary school teacher for Wooster Township Elementary.
Michelle Young said that Ella fell down the lower level stairs of their split level home March 22, 2011. Michelle Young said she checked Ella for injuries and looked into Ella’s eyes with a flashlight to see if her pupils were dilating. After the fall, Ella “was fine,” Michelle Young said.
The next morning, Michelle Young took Ella and Ethan to Kelly Kline’s house. Michelle asked Kline if she was working with Ella on how to go down stairs, and Kline said she would work on it with her. When Michelle Young picked Ella and Ethan up later that day, she noticed a small mark on Ella’s forehead. Michelle Young testified that Kline said Ella had gotten frustrated learning stairs, and “slammed her head on the steps” in a tantrum.
The next day, March 24, when Michelle Young picked up Ella from Kline’s after school, Kline said Ella had vomited seven times.
Michelle called off work for the next day and stayed home with Ella. Ella was sick after eating breakfast but ate lunch “and kept it down,” Michelle Young said.
Michelle Young said Ella’s behavior was normal through the weekend. Ella woke earlier than usual Monday, March 28, and Michelle Young told Kline that morning that Ella might need an early nap.
Kline called Michelle Young at school at approximately 12:30. Kline said she could not wake Ella after Ella laid down to take a nap. Kline asked if she should call 9-1-1, Michelle Young said.
“I asked her, if this was your child, would you, and she said yes,” Michelle Young said. “I told her call 9-1-1, I’m coming right over.”
Michelle Young said she arrived just as New Pittsburg emergency medical personnel were getting ready to transport Ella to the hospital. Ella was flown to Akron Children’s Hospital by medical helicopter. She died there at 12:10 a.m. March 29.
Michelle Young testified that a physician told her Ella’s death was likely caused by “unaccidental traumatic brain injury that occurred between the time I dropped her off at Kelly’s” and the 12:30 p.m. phone call.
Williams played a phone message left at 12:16 p.m. March 28 on Michelle Young’s home answering machine. The person in the brief call identifies herself as Kelly and asks Michelle to “give me a call after you get this.” The call was placed approximately 14 minutes before Kline called Michelle Young at school, Williams said.
New Pittsburg EMS Chief Brad Stull was the first to respond to Kline’s residence when she called 9-1-1 at approximately 12:35 p.m. Stull testified that Ella was lying on her back on the living room floor, unresponsive, with fluid in her nose and throat. Stull said he was met at the door by a woman talking into a phone and carrying a small child. Stull identified her as the baby sitter, and said he could not be sure if Kelly Kline was the person who met him at the door.
Stull said he used a bulb syringe provided by the baby sitter to clear Ella’s nose and throat of fluid. He contacted other EMS personnel and carried Ella out in his arms to the ambulance as soon as it arrived.
New Pittsburg EMT/paramedic Scott Martin said Ella was breathing six times per minute and she appeared to be a “critical patient.” Martin described the squad run as a “load and go,” with Ella being examined and treated in the ambulance en route to Wooster Community Hospital.
Stull and Martin testified that Ella had no visible injuries.
Ella was visited at Michelle Young’s residence by her father, Jason Young, March 24, and her maternal grandparents, Linda and Donald Baney, March 27. Jason Young and the Baney’s testified Monday that Ella seemed normal both days.
Kline is further charged with involuntary manslaughter, two counts of endangering children and two counts of assault.
The trial is expected to continue through Wednesday.