Grandma takes the stand in microwave trial

March 20, 2008 4:54:01 PM PDT
There were new developments in the trial of a father accused of putting his baby in a microwave oven in a Galveston motel room. Joshua Mauldin's mother took the stand and tried to explain the reason behind some of her son's bizarre behavior. It may be days before anyone knows the impression testimony from Joshua Mauldin's mother made on the jury. Joanie Mauldin made several key points his defense lawyer wanted the jury to hear, including details of Mauldin's hard childhood at the hands of his abusive father.

Joanie testified, "He would take the child and slam him into the wall, haul him by his throat, throw him down on the floor."

She detailed her poor mothering, calling it "neglectful," and described her son's long history of mental illness and hallucinations

"Joshua told me around the age of 13 that he had heard voices in his head, chattering in the back of his mind, to kill all of us," Joanie testified.

However, Mrs. Mauldin also testified that at first she was skeptical of the story her son told about how his two-month-old daughter got burned.

"He put the baby in the safe first," she said. "He put the baby in the refrigerator. Then he put the baby in the microwave."

It's the same story Joshua told police later in a videotaped statement. Like he explained in that video, Joanie said her son described a hallucination came over him immediately before he hurt the baby.

She testified, "He described it as if it was something that he couldn't control."

Joanie says she didn't tell anyone about the microwave burn story for at least a day. When the prosecutor cross-examined her, Mauldin admitted that several times in her son's life she covered up for Joshua's mistakes. That brought on a tense exchange.

"You're used to covering up for him," the prosecutor asserted.

"I'm not lying now," Joanie responded.

The prosecutor said, "I'm not asking you if you're lying."

"That's what you're asking me," Joanie insisted.

Earlier in the day, the court appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Fuller, continued his testimony that began on Wednesday. He told jurors that in many ways, that the 20-year-old father's response to his daughter's burns was appropriate. Mauldin apparently cried all the way to the hospital. However, the doctor also noted that the baby's mother didn't seem upset.

Dr. Fuller reiterated his conclusion about Mauldin's mental state. The doctor believes the father was experiencing a hallucination of some sort. He believes that the father knew the difference between right and wrong.

"If your question is, did he have a severe enough mental illness at the time of this event to satisfy, based on that in criteria for insanity, I don't believe he did," said Dr. Fuller.

Joshua Mauldin is charged with injury to a child. The defense rested its case on Thursday.

The baby is said to be doing fine now. She suffered burns so severe that she had to have surgery on her hand and lost a portion of her ear. She now lives with family members.

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