Tears fill courtroom during trial

October 2, 2009 4:39:29 PM PDT
There were tears in a courtroom in downtown Houston as a little girl's father took the stand. His ex is accused of killing the two-year-old, who was her stepdaughter at the time. But she says it was an accident. The father, who testified for the prosecution, is no longer with the stepmother who is standing trial. Still, it was an emotion filled day in the courthouse, as family, friends and even attorneys shed tears.

Family members sobbed as they rushed out of the courtroom Friday morning, emotional after prosecutors showed pictures of a bruised Kylie Perkins in a hospital bed. The little girl died last year and her stepmom Michelle Bearnth is charged with killing her.

Kylie's aunt Liz Blessing said, "That could have been, you know, you don't ever want to see anything like that. And you definitely don't want it to happen to your child, and you can't help but put yourself in their shoes."

Bearnth, who plead not guilty, showed no emotion in court, though she was comforted by family and friends once outside. Prosecutors allege last October she caused the bruises and the death of Kylie. But defense attorneys say the little girl accidentally fell in the bathroom. Our legal analyst says it's a tough case to prove.

"Bruises will go a long way toward helping the prosecution, but it doesn't get them over the hump of proving this was an intentional act," explained KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy.

Prosecutors put on the stand Kylie's father Josh Perkins, and her mom, Randi Blessing. Their testimony at times was so emotional that prosecutors, defense attorneys and even members of the jury were seen wiping their eyes.

"It's hard," said Kylie's aunt Becky Matzke. "Seeing those pictures, that was hard."

The entire trial is expected to last at least another week. Defense attorneys gave no indication of how they will present their argument that the death of Kylie was an unfortunate, tragic accident. Our legal analyst says all the tears, for now, benefit the prosecutors.

"There's an emotional feeling in the courtroom, and it's pointed against the defendant," Androphy said. "So the crying doesn't help her."

In fact, Randi Blessing broke down on the stand when she said the reason her daughter was staying with her former husband was because she was not in the financial situation to take care of her children. She is expected to be back on the stand when the trial resumes Monday morning.

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