AUGUSTA, Maine — Sixteen months after the death of four-year-old Kendall Chick, Shawna Gotto walked into an Augusta courtroom and stood trial for causing the death.
Back in December 2017, emergency responders went to the Wiscasset home of Kendall's grandfather, Stephen Hood. Gatto was Hood's fiancé and she watched Kendall and two other children.
In opening statements, prosecutors repeated one remark from Gotto.
"She was fine ten minutes ago. She was fine ten minutes ago," said Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, as pictures of Chick's body were shown on a screen. "She was fine. This is what Shawna Gotto told her fiancé Stephen Hood when he rushed in from outside at her request to attempt CPR before the EMTs arrived and later from a phone call from the jail after her arrest."
In an unusual decision, the defense did not proceed with opening statements. Gatto's lawyers told the judge they wanted to make their statement later after the prosecution rests their case.
The state called its first witnesses to the stand, which included three first responders who arrived after the 911 call.
A paramedic and two EMTs described what they saw when they got to the 19 Crickets Lane residence on December 8. The court heard a recording of the 911 call where dispatch was informing Stephen Hood and Shawna Gotto how to give CPR.
"It was dark inside the home," says one EMT. She described Chick as being naked and covered in bruises, with her eyes swollen shut and cut under her chin. Prosecutors mentioned the EMT's summary report saying Chick was 'laying lifeless on the floor.'
Prosecutors showed pictures of Chick's body on the stretcher inside the ambulance shortly after she was taken from a bathroom inside. Chick was transported to Mid Coast Hospital where she was pronounced dead in the emergency room.
"In Doctor Flomenbaum's opinion, the cause of death is blunt force trauma to the abdomen with multiple blunt force trauma to the head as a contributory cause of death," said Macomber to Superior Court Justice William Stokes. "In his opinion, Kendall was the victim of child abuse syndrome."
Investigators found blood stains throughout the home, including in the girl's bed, in a bathtub where she had been, and on a dent in the wall consistent with the size of the child's head, according to the police affidavit.
Kendall Chick's death was one of two murders in Maine last winter that were blamed on child abuse which prompted an investigation by the legislature and calls to overhaul the state's child protection system.