McDONOUGH — Here is a recap of highlights thus far in the Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum trial in the 2015 death of foster child Laila Daniel, 2.
JULY 8: Jury selection begins.
JULY 10: Trial begins. Defense attorney Corinne Mull blamed the media, saying it had sensationalized the case and attributing Laila’s injuries to rough play and rescue efforts the night she died. Jennifer Rosenbaum had said Laila was choking on a chicken nugget and that she was unsure how to do CPR. Retired paramedic Kenneth Jones, who responded to the 911 call, testified Laila was bruised all over. Henry County Coroner Donald Cleveland presented photos he took of bruises on Laila’s arms, chest, abdomen and genital region. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy found Laila died of a split pancreas sustained by a blow to her abdomen. The GBI also found evidence of old internal injuries and fractures but no evidence of choking.
JULY 11: Tessa Clendening, the girls’ biological mother, said she started recording phone calls with Jennifer Rosenbaum after Rosenbaum repeatedly said Laila was too sick to visit or talk on the phone and stopped sending current photos of the child. Clendening said she was struggling with addiction and wanted the girls to have a stable home while she was in jail. She said Rosenbaum approached her about taking the girls after meeting them in the courthouse. Jurors heard the last phone call between Clendening and Laila the night before the child died at Piedmont Henry Hospital.
JULY 12: Millie, Laila’s big sister, testified that Jennifer Rosenbaum said Jennifer would strike the girls with her hand or a belt “on her butt” and that Joseph Rosenbaum said “nothing” while it happened.
DFCS adoption worker Chineza Oeikeo testified Jennifer Rosenbaum’s first foster parent application under her maiden name, Holcomb, was denied. Jennifer reapplied using her married name and went through orientation with Joseph but never got final approval from Oieke.
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, Lambert saw a distressed Millie and Jennifer in a Walmart. Jennifer told her Millie was sick, then changed the topic to vacation plans. Lambert described Laila’s body as “skinny” and nearly bald in her coffin. The next day, Millie was placed with her again. She said “her back was so covered in black and blue bruises I took her straight to the doctor in Stockbridge.”
JULY 15: DFCS supervisor Ebony Taylor testified that her staff never ran Jennifer Rosenbaum’s maiden name, and that they would not have approved her as a foster parent had they done that check. Taylor also said the home check was signed by someone who was not authorized to do so. Tamera Smith, who was fired from DFCS, told the jury she went by what caseworker Samantha White had told her, adding that she was worried that White was inexperienced. Alexis Battle, the daughter of Jennifer Rosenbaum’s former boss, testified that she was a teenager at the time and that she had helped with a birthday party. Neighbor Jordan Hall testified that Jennifer Rosenbaum had told her Clendening was a meth addict and that “karma’s a b____ because now she was going to be taking care of those meth babies,” right before Rosenbaum got custody of Laila.
Peggy Banks, the girls’ great-grandmother, said she could not keep the girls because she lived in senior housing. She thought the Rosenbaums would offer stability. When she saw bruises on the girls, she asked her homeowners’ association for permission to keep the girls, which it granted. However, Laila died before Banks could inform DFCS of the change.
JULY 16: DFCS supervisor Ebony Taylor testified that, as an administrator, she did not generally have direct contact with foster children. She became involved in a special investigation after Millie had a black eye while in Lambert’s care on Feb. 29, 2016. She testified that Lambert had asked that Millie be removed because she “didn’t want to get involved in all the media chaos” around Laila’s case.
In a June 18, 2015, email from Mary Evans-Battle, she said Battle wanted the children placed with the Rosenbaums and asked “that Tamera Smith and a contractor be allowed to do their jobs.” Taylor said Deshay Rice Clansy signed the home evaluation and that she was not authorized to do so. Had Tamera Smith done a background check on Rosenbaum’s maiden name, they would not have been approved. As to who gave the unauthorized approval, she said, “That’s an HR matter with DFCS. It’s already been dealt with and it’s over my head.”
Gymtech office manager Trisha Blissett said Millie was enrolled in the class but that she did not fill out a waiver for Laila, saying she wasn’t sure Laila would take the class “because she had been complaining of a hurt leg.”
Thursday, July 18 would have been Laila Marie Daniel’s sixth birthday.