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Day two of Usnick trial features medical examiner, autopsy photos

Day two of the Emily Usnick trial began with the testimony of one of Usnick’s former boyfriends.

Usnick is charged with second-degree felony murder for the death of her newborn child. The baby was found wrapped in a trash bag, inside a container, inside the trunk of a car in 2009 in Miller County.

The former boyfriend said he and Usnick started dating around July 2007. He said they broke up in early 2008. He said he wasn’t aware Usnick was pregnant until the end of 2008. He claimed Usnick first told him he was the father. However, that was later proven untrue.

The second witness to testify was Eric Vernon, a detective formerly with the Miller County Sheriff’s Office. Vernon interviewed Usnick after her arrest.

The jury heard an audio recording of the first interview Vernon conducted with Usnick in the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 2009, about 12 hours after a search warrant was issued on the home where Usnick was living.

Vernon and another detective asked about Usnick’s car, which she said was maroon and parked in one of the home’s garages. She said the police officers at the house had been asking about the car, and she wasn’t sure why.

The detectives told her they wanted to talk specifically about a plastic, blue tote found in the trunk of the car. Usnick claimed the car wasn’t working and hadn’t touched it since before Christmas. She denied any knowledge of the blue tote.

When asked if she knew if anyone in the home was pregnant, she claimed she did not. Usnick told detectives people would come and go from the home frequently, and she wasn’t sure who all the people were. She claimed she only stayed there on occasion to have a St. Elizabeth address so her son could go to school.

Four months later, in July 2009, Usnick provided detectives with a hand written statement, admitting to giving birth of a baby girl in January. In the statement, she admitted to smoking methamphetamine the night before. She wrote she started having painful contractions and went to the bathroom.

“I felt the urge to push,” Usnick wrote. “So I did.”

She continued, saying the baby’s head went into the toilet, followed by the baby’s body. She said it was too painful to stand up and try to retrieve the baby, as she was trying to push the placenta out.

Usnick wrote by the time she got the baby out of the water, about five minutes later, the baby wasn’t moving or crying. She wrote the baby was “beautiful” and “planned to give her up for adoption.”

Usnick wrote she regretted the decisions made leading up to that day and the decisions made after.

The third witness to testify was Dr. Carl Stacy, the Boone County medical examiner who did the autopsy on the baby.

Stacy believed the baby was alive at birth because of the size of the umbilical cord, as well as common bruising found on the baby’s head.

Stacy explained if the baby had died before birth, the umbilical cord would have been more narrow than when he examined it. He also believes the umbilical cord did not choke the baby, because there were no heavy indentations around the baby’s neck.

Stacy also said there were common bruises on the baby’s head that can happen while the baby is passing through the birth canal. Stacy explained for those bruises to happen, there needs to be blood pumping through the baby’s body.

The defense brought up previous testimony given by Stacy in a hearing from 2012. In 2012, Stacy had testified the cord could have choked the baby. During cross examination, Stacy also testified he could not be certain of the time of death.

After the lunch break, the state called Dr. Doug Miller, a neuropathologist who examined the baby’s brain. Miller works with Stacy on autopsies.

According to Miller, the baby Usnick’s brain had no abnormalities aside from some decomposition when he examined it.

Miller testified he found no developmental abnormalities in the brain, and the brain was that of a full-term baby.

In cross examination, the defense asked about oxygen deprivation. Miller testified when a brain is deprived of oxygen or blood for an extended period of time, there will be signs of hypoxia on the brain. Miller said he did not find any evidence of hypoxia on the baby’s brain.

The state has one remaining witness to call that will testify Friday morning. After that, the state plans to rest, and the defense will call their witnesses. The jury could get the case as early as Friday afternoon.

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