McDONOUGH — Doctor visits, a heartbreaking encounter in a Walmart and wrangling over allowing a teddy bear in court marked Friday’s testimony in the murder trial of Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum. The pair are charged in the 2015 death of foster child Laila Daniel.
Defense attorney Corrine M. Mull objected to a request that Millie be allowed to bring a small teddy bear that her uncle had given her. Judge Brian Amero allowed it.
As Millie entered the courtroom, an adult held her hand and walked her to the stand. A pink bow topped her long blond curls and she wore a pink and white dress. She raised her hand and was sworn in. Asked if she knew why she was there, she replied, “To talk about stuff.” Asked what stuff, she remained silent.
She identified photos of toys, clothes and furniture from the room she and Laila had shared at the Rosenbaums. She liked the red door on their house. “Was there anything else you liked about it?”
Millie said sometimes Jennifer Rosenbaum would talk loudly to her and Laila “because she was mad.” She wouldn’t elaborate as to why, but said Jennifer was mad at Laila about “a lot of things.” The girls were forbidden to sleep in the car. If they fell asleep, she said, or didn’t dress quickly enough, they would get “a spanking” in Jennifer’s room, either with Jennifer’s hand or a belt, “on my butt.” She said the spanks “hurt” and that the belt touched her skin.
The night Laila died, Millie said she had finished dinner and gone upstairs to watch Paw Patrol. Jennifer called her from the bottom of the stairs to come down. Laila “wasn’t doing anything” and Jennifer was “by her. By Laila.” Millie said they got in the car and went to the hospital.
She said she felt “sad” about talking about Laila’s death and the Rosenbaum’s house. Since then, she has had two therapists. The current one “comes to my house. We read books and watch calming videos.”
The defense showed Millie photos of herself, Laila and Jennifer doing fun things: getting their faces painted, jumping in a bouncy house. “Do you remember telling people that Jennifer was nice to you?” She said “No.”
Finally, Millie was led out of a rear door by a bailiff.
♦ Naxtassja Colbert, foster mom Larita Brown’s daughter, helped her sister and mother with the girls. She tried to teach Laila basic sign language for words like “more,” “milk,” “cookie,” “eat,” “hungry,” “thank you” — but said Laila was “not really” able to do the signs.
♦ Chineza Oeikeo, a DFCS adoption worker for over 11 years, said all foster parents are required to go through orientation, background checks, a class on what to expect from foster children) and a home study before they can take foster children. She said Jennifer made two applications. One was in her maiden name, Holcomb, which turned up her own Child Protective Services history. That application “was naturally denied.” The other included husband Joseph under their married name. Oeikeo says they did orientation but that she never gave final approval and doesn’t know how the Rosenbaums got the children because she approves all home studies in Henry County.
♦ Patricia Lambert, a Henry County foster parent for 10 years, testified she kept meticulous documentation of bruises and other injuries the girls had after visits with the Rosenbaums. After the girls were taken from her home, she said she saw Millie and Jennifer in a Walmart: “I saw two little hands coming towards me. She (Millie) jumped in my arms and buried her head in my chest. She had on two or three layers of clothes and it was hot. I asked, ‘What’s going on?’ She just looked at me with her eyes full of water.” Jennifer Rosenbaum said Millie was sick, that they were at Walmart for medicine, then “changed the conversation” to vacation plans. When Lambert saw Laila’s body at her viewing, “She (was) a completely different baby in that box. Skinny, barely had any hair. She looked like a baby that you have in the womb ... Just a frail little baby.”
When Millie was placed with her the next day, Lambert said, “her back was so covered in black and blue bruises I took her straight to the doctor in Stockbridge.” Millie had changed: “She would be calling for her sister every night.”
♦ Mietta Macedon, who was a Henry County DFCS case manager in 2015, said Lambert, whose documentation contained “very consistent detail,” came to the office with one child, asking to see a caseworker or supervisor. Both were out. Macedon took pictures of marks on the child, then forwarded them to the caseworker and supervisor.
The Rosenbaum trial will resume Monday morning.