The New Eagle mother accused of neglecting and imprisoning her twin children before one of them was found wandering on a cold morning in February 2012 is expected to take the witness stand in her own defense this week.
The trial for Roxanne Taylor, 26, started Tuesday in Washington County Court with opening arguments and the prosecution calling to the stand the motorist who found the 6-year-old boy lying in the road wearing only a diaper and shirt.
Assistant District Attorney Traci McDonald said most people who saw the children thought they were “from a third world country” after police found them on Feb. 15, 2012, living in deplorable conditions and locked in their bedroom with a chain on the door at their 353 Seventh Ave. home.
But Taylor’s defense attorney, Andrew Glasgow, described her as a “loving, caring mother who did not starve her children” and said he expected she would testify at some point during the trial.
Taylor is on trial facing charges of four counts of child endangerment, along with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment. The children’s father, Edward J. Buckholz, 34, pleaded guilty in the case last month and is awaiting sentencing.
“This is not something Ms. Taylor wanted. This is not something Ms. Taylor foresaw,” Glasgow said. “It’s an accident.”
That’s not how prosecutors described it when a neighbor driving to work at 6 a.m. found the young boy lying in the road after he lifted his toy chest onto a bed and climbed out of the window. Edward Dermont said he thought the 6-year-old child was a baby because he weighed just 30 pounds. He picked up the child and asked him where he lived before the boy pointed to the house about 30 feet away.
“I said, ‘Baby, come here.’ He looked like a little child,” Dermont said. “I wasn’t sure if it was a boy or girl.”
After knocking on the door for about five minutes, the boy said he was cold, so Dermont wrapped him in his work jacket and they went to his truck.
“He kept reaching for me like he didn’t want to go in (the home),” Dermont said.
Dermont testified the boy was covered in feces that then rubbed onto Dermont’s work clothes and pickup truck seat. During cross-examination, Glasgow raised questions whether it could be a combination of dirt and feces, which the boy might have picked up while outside.
He and the boy returned to Dermont’s home nearby and police arrived shortly after. They fed the boy hot chocolate, a bowl of Rice Krispies and other food that he immediately ate and asked for more.
Police found a chain on the door to the children’s room and a strong smell of cat urine inside the home. However, Glasgow said that was to keep the children safe after they had left their room and were oftentimes found climbing on furniture.
McDonald said that indicated the boy and his twin sister were malnourished and not cared for properly. She said most people who came in contact with the children thought they were no older than 3 years old.
“The condition of those children that day even brought medical professionals to tears,” McDonald said.
Jamie Lynn Varley, a registered nurse who treated the boy at Mon General Hospital, testified he weighed 34.2 pounds, was suffering from hypothermia, had a distended stomach and had several bruises in different phases. She said she became emotional and broke down at times while reviewing photos taken at the hospital of the boy.
“He just looked broken,” Varley said.
Glasgow, though, noted that there were no notes that the boy suffered from malnutrition. He described the events on that day as just a “snapshot in time” and that the children were well cared for when seen by parenting counselors and doctors.
“We ask you to keep an open mind until you hear all of the facts,” Glasgow said.
Taylor, who was dressed in a flowery blouse, looked forward and rarely made eye contact with the witnesses or jury.
The trial is expected to continue for the rest of the week. It was not known when Taylor will testify.