A prosecutor claimed officers investigating the 23-month-old boy’s kidnapping arrived at the family’s house on a frigid February night in 2019 and found the windows open and fans running oddly. Burning smelled.
Hours later, the backyard contained the child’s dismembered and burned remains.
After nearly four years, Nakira Griner’s trial began Monday for killing Daniel Griner Jr. and alleging he was kidnapped.
Griner, 28, faces murder accusations.
The prosecution alleges Griner abused and killed the child, while the defense contends the state rushed to judgment in charging her with murder.
Griner called 911 on February 8, 2019, to report that Daniel had been abducted while she was walking to a Bridgeton supermarket with her infant boy strapped to her chest.
As she looked up, two attackers pushed her down and stole Daniel and the stroller. The stroller was empty.
She told police hours later that Daniel had accidentally fallen down a flight of stairs in the family’s home and that she had left him alive and alone in a stroller on a street in hopes that someone would save him.
Investigators said Griner feared blame for his injuries.
When he rejected breakfast, she slapped him, causing bruises on his face, according to her criminal complaint.
The next morning, officials found the child’s burnt and mutilated remains in Griner’s handbag and trash bags under the family’s garden shed.
Daniel’s autopsy showed several bone fractures and force injuries. homicide.
Griner faces murder, disturbing human remains, tampering with evidence, child endangerment, and false public alarm charges.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Parvin told the jury Monday that security video showed Griner moving an empty stroller toward where authorities seized it.
Parvin reminded jurors that some of the evidence may be hard to understand but necessary for the state to prove its case.
The prosecution said a forensic anthropologist did a “trauma study” of the child’s multiple injuries after an autopsy discovered “significant thermal heat damage” to the bones.
Assessing physical injuries before, during, or after death.
Parvin told the jury Monday that they will hear from police, detectives, a medical examiner and forensic anthropologist who examined the boy’s bones, and Griner’s jail phone records and recorded calls.
“I believe when you hear all of this testimony that we offer to you, you will find Nakira Griner guilty of all of these offenses.
Griner’s attorney, Jill Cohen, conceded her client burnt and disposed of the child’s remains and lied to authorities about the kidnapping, but she claimed the state had no substantial proof of murder.
“She freely concedes that she performed all of those awful things,” Cohen told the jurors. You can convict her of all those offenses, but not murder. Jr.
Cohen cautioned jurors that they would see violent visuals and hear distressing testimony, including Griner’s phone calls.
Last year, Parvin said Griner claimed Daniel fell down steps and “done what she did to him” to cover up his bruising in jail calls.
Despite the gory revelations, Griner remained cool as attorneys argued Monday.
Cohen warned her client’s behavior may offend. “Nobody. You don’t have to like her. Deliberate without emotions or assumptions.
Cohen told jurors that she can refuse to testify.
The attorney questioned the forensic anthropologist’s qualifications and said he and the medical examiner cannot establish Daniel’s damaged bones were caused by mistreatment before his death.
Cohen stated the body was burnt in an oven, making it difficult to determine if broken bones were caused by cruelty or heat.
Griner’s former attorney characterized the child’s death as an accident and claimed the mother suffered postpartum psychosis, a severe form of postpartum depression. Monday’s opening speeches ignored mental health.
Griner rejected a 30-year murder plea offer.
The coronavirus pandemic delayed criminal jury proceedings from March 2020 to June 2021 after her arrest.
Cohen argued in the summer that Griner should be released pending trial since she had been jailed for over two years under state criminal justice reform legislation from 2017.
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Superior Court Judge George H. Gangloff Jr. denied the motion because his release date calculation included pandemic exceptions and defense delays.