'I kissed him on the forehead four times': Grandfather testifies in trial of Regina mother accused of killing son
Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing
Emerson Whitby was a busy, inquisitive toddler who was always moving around.
That’s how his grandfather Travis Jolly described the 18-month-old boy as he detailed the last time he saw his grandson alive during trial at the Court of King’s Bench on Tuesday.
“I kissed him on the forehead four times and I told him that his grandpa loved him so much,” Jolly testified about his final farewell with Emerson. “That was the last time I saw my grandson alive.”
Chelsea Whitby, Emerson’s mother, is on trial for second-degree murder in her son’s death. He died from blunt force trauma to the head on June 10, 2020.
Whitby, 27, and Emerson’s father were not in a relationship at the time of his death. However, they did have an informal custody agreement. Emerson spent one day a week and every other weekend with his dad and grandparents.
The last time his paternal grandparents saw Emerson alive was June 9, 2020. Jolly told court the boy did not get hurt that day in their care. However, Emerson sustained an injury while in his mother’s care, a few weeks before his death that resulted in two dark bruises around his eyes.
Jolly told court the boy was noticeably docile and less active in the days following his injury.
Emerson appeared to be back to normal on June 9, besides the visible bruises around his eyes along with new bruises on his jawline, which Jolly was told were a result of the beaded lanyard that attached to the toddler’s soother.
“I was relieved that he was getting better,” Jolly told court. “He was the Emerson that I knew, the Emerson that gets into everything and the Emerson that makes noise.”
Emerson returned to his mother’s care the night of June 9. He died the next day.
Doctors told Whitby the injuries were not self-inflicted.
“I honestly don’t have an idea of how it happened,” Whitby told the coroner during an interview on the day her son died.
Autopsy photos show bruises on Emerson’s forehead, jawline, nose, chest and shoulders.
Jolly testified he never noticed the bruising on Emerson’s forehead the day before, but it was visible when he saw him in the hospital.
A Regina police officer who testified on Tuesday told court he overheard Whitby offer two different explanations for the bruises on Emerson’s face to two different family members while at the hospital.
Whitby told one person the bruises were a result of the paramedics performing CPR. She told another family member they were from his soother lanyard. The officer told court he found the inconsistencies odd.
According to witness testimony, when Whitby learned police obtained a search warrant for her house she asked officers, “Does that mean I’m going to jail for hurting my child?”
In court, the Crown played a video recording of Whitby’s interview with police two days after Emerson’s death. In the video, she breaks down crying and denies any fault.
“I didn’t hurt him. I didn’t hurt him,” she told police.
Emerson’s paternal grandmother and his father are expected to testify Wednesday as the trial enters its third day.
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