McDONOUGH — This week, Laila Marie Daniel would have turned 6 years old. Instead, a mound of stuffed animals and balloons mark her grave in a corner of Berea Cemetery as jurors heard testimony about breaks, bruises and her last excruciating moments on Earth.
Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum are on trial for murder, assault, battery and child cruelty in the death of Laila, their foster child. Jennifer Rosenbaum has said the child had choked on a piece of chicken the night she died.
On July 17, jurors heard the nearly 14-minute 911 call in which an operator walked Jennifer Rosenbaum through giving Laila CPR. As the audio played, Rosenbaum could be seen bouncing slightly in her chair, then being comforted by a member of the defense team as she dabbed her nose with a tissue.
Henry County Fire Lt. Brian Gibson said when emergency workers arrived, Laila was “clinically deceased at that point.”
Employees of the gymnasium where Millie, Laila’s sister who also lived with the Rosenbaums, was enrolled testified that Laila had never enrolled there because Jennifer Rosenbaum had not given them a signed waiver. Another parent whose child was enrolled in the class said she would sit on the bench with Jennifer and that Laila would lie there listlessly.
On July 18, Julie Espinoza, a registered nurse who was in the emergency room at Piedmont Henry the night Laila died, testified that Laila was “very pale” and not blue and had no marks in her eyes that would indicate choking. She noted the bruising on Laila’s flank had a “strange pattern.”
Henry County Police Detective Dwayne Harrison testified that he had videotaped a forensic interview with Rosenberg and her then-attorney six days after Laila’s death. In that video, Rosenberg said she had put her finger in Laila’s throat “to try and push it down or get it out” and that she also used the kitchen sink sprayer to “run a little water” and try to flush out any obstruction.
On July 19, Harrison testified Jordan Hall, a neighbor of the Rosenbaums, told him she and Rosenbaum had called the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta advice line after “allegedly (Laila) fell on her face and smashed her nose.”
Defense attorney Corrinne Mull questioned Millie’s credibility. “She never said anyone ever hurt her, kneed her, kicked her or spanked her, did she?” and that “Millie told you he (Joseph Rosenbaum) treated Millie and Laila good?”
Crystal Bales, a nurse practitioner who worked as a registered nurse in Piedmont Henry’s emergency room, testified that she had examined Millie and found “bruises in different stages of healing” on the child’s left inner elbow. She counted “at least 15 bruises and two abrasions.” The jury saw photos that showed numerous bruises along Millie’s spine, in the center of her back and on her right hip. Bales also noted abrasions on Millie’s head and back and a “red, bumpy rash” in the child’s private areas. Bales testified that Millie said she had gotten “mosquito bites.”
Emannuella Arnaud-Carr, who investigated Laila’s death for DFCS, said she was sent to the hospital and spoke with caseworker Samantha White, who was “really upset.” When Laila was declared dead, she went in to take photos of the body and “observed marks and bruises just all over her front and back.”
She added that the doctors present were “talking about the fact that she had used the bathroom on herself that day.”
When she took Millie for an exam, “Along the way she said her sister was choking on chicken, that she missed her, she wanted her.” Arnaud-Carr said Millie attributed her own bruises to falling off her bike and falling at gymnastics.
Arnaud-Carr described the Rosenbaums’ demeanor. “Initially, she (Jennifer) seemed pretty calm, saying she couldn’t cry, she was in shock, saying ‘my eyes are dry, I don’t know why I can’t cry.’” However, Joseph Rosenbaum “was crying. He was distraught.”
The defense again questioned Millie’s statements to investigators about how she got the bruises on her spine — playing outside, riding her bike, gymnastics — and asked whether Arnaud-Carr had discussed “good touch, bad touch” with the child.
“Yes,” he said.
When the defense mentioned the name of someone about whom investigators say Millie had made allegations of sexual abuse, the prosecution objected. Judge Brian Amero called a break and removed the jury.
During the break, the defense argued it wanted to clarify that the allegations were against the third party and not against Joseph Rosenbaum. The prosecution said the defense had already made clear there had been inconsistencies in Millie’s testimony, that the allegation was not relevant to this trial and that the person in question was not there to defend himself.
Amero eventually allowed the question only to clarify the allegation was not against Joseph Rosenbaum.