DEFENDANT SAY HE NEVER HIT DAUGHTER

Through his tears. Marcus Stuart told a jury Wednesday that he loved his infant daughterfrom the moment she was born until her death 10 weeks later.
Stuart, the last witness in his own capital murder trial, said he didn’t know how little Megan Stuart got several broken ribs, a fractured skull and two broken legs. He also said he didn’t kill her, as prosecutors allege. Whether a jury believed him could be revealed today, when lawyers are expected tomake closing arguments and jurors probably will begin deliberation. If Stuart is convictedof first-degree murder, he could receive the death penalty. e
“Did you, at any time, strike, slap or throw to the floor your daughter Megan?” askedStuart’s lawyer, Ted Cummings.
“No. I did not,” responded Stuart,his face red and swollen from sobbingNever in the 10 weeks that she was alive.”
Baby Megan died almost exactly one year ago from injuries that her doctors testified werecaused by trauma. Stuart had been watching the baby when, he told the jury, she stopped breathing and he called 911.
“She completely collapsed on me,” Stuart testified. “I put one hand on her head and oneon her bottom and shook her lightly. . . . She didn’t respond to me.”
Stuart’s wife, Amy, was working as a manager at Burger King at the time. The couple rotated work shiftsso that one of them was always home watching Megan and April, AmyStuart’s child from a previous relationship.
Megan was rushed to Catawba Memorial Hospital and then to N.C. Baptist Hospital inWinston-Salem. There she was declared brain dead and, the following day, died after being removed from a respirator.
It was also there that doctors began questioning the Stuartsabout their daughter’s death.
“The doctor took us into a private room and started talking about shaken baby syndrome ” Stuart testified, “, , , We figured with the accusations, there could be a legalbattle or whatever and it would be best to have an attorney,”
Dr. James Parker, a pathologist, testified that Megan’s brain injury was caused by “oneblow to the back of the head,” perhaps with “a blunt instrument such as a wall or table.”
Earlier in the week, another doctor told the jury that dropping the baby by accident could not have caused such serious injuries.(The following paragraphs did not run in the third edition:) Prosecutor Jason Parker showed the jurya letter written by Stuart to his wife while he was in jail. In the letter, Marcus Stuart said he had gone to get the baby a bottleand she had fallen on the floor.
Cummings introduced another letter, this one written by Amy Stuart to her husband,threatening divorce unless he “gave an explanation” for what happened to the child.Cummings said Stuart lied about dropping the baby to save his marriage.
The surprise witness Wednesday was Maria Redinger, Stuart’s first wife. Redingertestified that Stuart married her even after she became pregnant by another man. Shealso said he never lifted a hand against her even during bouts of postpartum depressionso severe that she stabbed him and broke his jaw.
“He wanted to give my son a name,” Redinger told a riveted courtroom.Marcus wouldn’t do a thing like this. That just isn’t Mark.”

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~ by mamadubs on January 10, 2006.

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