Day 4 Testimony: Mother of victim testifies in Dakota Miller trial

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The fourth day of testimony in the Dakota Miller trial took place Tuesday, and Codie Baker, the mother of the victim, took the stand.

The first witness was Dr. Louis Daugherty, a pediatric critical care doctor who handled Ian upon his arrival at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He said he was shocked at Ian’s presentation and testified to his dozens of bruises and bite marks throughout his body, possible lung and liver lacerations, dilated pupils, swollen brain, low blood count, and multiple fractures to the ribs on his back. 

Dr. Daugherty said Ian was so critically ill that surgery would have been futile because his brain was so herniated. The doctor said consuming bad meat, rough-playing with a three-year-old, or having a wooden shelf fall on him was “absolutely not” a reason for the injuries but instead consistent with blunt force trauma similar to a high-speed automobile accident where a child could have been ejected from a vehicle.

During his 17 years of experience, he’s seen thousands of patients and said this was by far the most significant inflicted trauma he’s seen on a child.

Codie Baker eventually took the stand and testified to being about seven months pregnant before working a nine-hour shift at Walmart on Nov. 25, 2015, the day the alleged beating occurred. She was pregnant with Dakota’s child. Before work, she was at the Hornell home of Melissa Miller, Dakota’s mother, with her children and Dakota. Codie testified to Ian being “fine and happy” before leaving for work in Dakota’s care. Melissa gave Codie a ride to Walmart for before her 1:00 P.M. shift.

Codie said Robert Preston, Dakota’s stepfather, gave her a ride home from work to her E. Van Scoter Street residence where she arrived around 10:45 P.M. Upon arrival, her three-year-old daughter was sleeping on the couch and her father was in his own room. She testified to her father being on his phone and being “completely indulged into it” when he’s on it.

She then peeped into her master bedroom that she shared with Dakota where Ian’s pack ‘n play was located to check on her 17-month-old baby. She did not turn on the lights. She said she then went to prepare a salad for dinner. She cut up vegetables, threw in some meat, and ate her meal on the couch in the living room with the defendant by her side. The time then was almost 11:00 P.M.

Codie testified to the couple catching the end of one episode of Family Guy then watching a full episode right after. Once the second episode was over at 11:30 P.M., she said she washed her dishes, said goodnight to her father, and went to bed around 11:45 P.M.

In bed, she heard troubled breathing coming from her son about three feet away. She went over to wake him up by calling his name and shaking him, but he was unresponsive. She placed him on her bed and rubbed his belly but still no response. She said she started “freaking out” and her father came in and said to go to the hospital right away. She wrapped her child in a blanket and took off on foot for the nearby St. James Mercy Hospital with Dakota “somewhere behind” her.

Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker showed her a photo of a healthy and smiling baby Ian and asked if she knew him. Codie’s voice broke and she said yes and teared up.

During cross-examination, the defense asked Codie if she had tried to stab her father in 2010. She answered yes. The defense asked if she has a temper or gets physical to which she responded she used to until she had kids. The defense asked if she ever hit or disciplined her children. She responded no. The defense asked if she had ever argued with Dakota about him not working at the time due to a broken leg or ankle. She said no, and that she got the job at Walmart to help pay for the bills.

“She (Codie) brought what happened,” Baker said. “She brought the truth. One of the things we had to resolve was where she was, and I think we may have actually really worked the timeline down pretty well that there was really no opportunity for her to be the offendant or instigator in this case despite the fact that appears to be where the defense is going at this stage.”

The final witness was the Monroe County Medical Examiner who conducted Ian’s autopsy on Dec. 1, 2015 following his Nov. 29 death. She told the jury the extent of Ian’s injuries by showing and explaining the diagram she worked on that day. She noted his external injuries but went into graphic detail about the internal damage. She said she made incisions throughout his body to examine his organs and just a few of the many injuries include liver lacerations, hemorrhages under the skin, and optic nerve bleeding.

She concluded that his cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was homicide.

A total of five witnesses took the stand Tuesday, and one final witness is expected to testify on Wednesday. The defense will then have an opportunity to present its case.

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