By EILEEN MCCLORY
Differing versions of the events that led to the death of a child were described by defense and prosecuting attorneys Tuesday during the second day of the trial of Brent Houdeshell, a 29-year-old Arlington man accused of murdering 2-year-old Breydon Ferrell in 2016.
Colleen Limerick, an assistant Hancock County prosecutor, said the case is child murder.
She said Houdeshell and the child’s mother, Alysha Young, argued March 31, 2016, the night of the alleged murder, about who would spend the night watching Breydon Ferrell, 2, and the couple’s baby, 2 months old at the time.
Houdeshell eventually was left with the children. Houdeshell called 911 at around 8 p.m. to report a child had fallen out of his crib.
Breydon Ferrell was taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
When an autopsy was done, Limerick said, the boy’s injuries were extensive: a severe skull fracture, brain injury, two liver lacerations, and a spiral fracture in his left leg. The cause of death was eventually determined to be a brain injury, which Limerick said Houdeshell caused.
“This is not a case of an accidental fall from a crib. This is a case of child murder,” Limerick told jurors in her opening statement.
Adam Nemann, Houdeshell’s defense lawyer, said Houdeshell could not have committed the murder of a child he loved.
“The prosecution is asking you to believe a loving, caring father to this boy turned into an abusive killer,” Nemann said.
Nemann said the defense believes the boy became ill, vomited, and fell out of his crib.
Houdeshell found the child and attempted to clean him up before putting him back into his bed.
Nemann said the injuries on the child’s chest were due to CPR from a Findlay police officer and other injuries were due to further attempts by medics to save him.
Houdeshell is on trial in Hancock County Common Pleas Court on charges of murder, an unclassified felony; child endangering, a second-degree felony; and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.
Findlay police were dispatched to 2030 Breckenridge Road, Apt. 3, on a report of an unresponsive child on March 31, 2016. Police said they were told the child had fallen out of his crib.
The boy was taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital and pronounced dead a short time later.
Alisha Young, 26, the boy’s mother and Houdeshell’s former fiancee, testified Tuesday that she used to think Houdeshell was wonderful with her children.
Young said Houdeshell was watching Breydon, as well as their child, Zaiden, who was 2 months old, on March 31, 2016. She said she was not worried about leaving her sons with him, as he had been a good father to them.
She said Houdeshell called her at about 9 p.m., asking her to go to the hospital.
Young began to cry after Hancock County Assistant Prosecutor Steve Powell showed her a photo of the boy, taken at the hospital after the child had been pronounced dead. He was swaddled in a blanket with a medical device over his mouth and bruises on his face.
Young said she was not told until the next day that her son’s death was not an accident, when police received an autopsy ruling that the death was a homicide.
“I was in shock, thinking how could this happen?” Young said.
Young testified Tuesday that she met Houdeshell in January 2015 and they began a relationship shortly after that. They became engaged later in 2015, but Houdeshell broke off the engagement around Easter 2016, shortly before the boy’s death.
Houdeshell was serving a jail sentence in early 2016 for operating a vehicle under the influence, but was released from jail on a medical furlough. After the boy’s death, Houdeshell was arrested and returned to jail.
Young testified Tuesday that the boy had a chromosomal disorder that caused him to have difficulty walking, crawling and sitting up. She also said she suspected he may have been autistic, but he was too young to be tested.
The boy had fallen at his grandmother’s home a few weeks prior to March 31, Young said. She said he had pain in one of his legs the week before his death, and couldn’t stand on it or wear shoes.
Findlay Police Patrolman Eric Lehman, who responded to the Breckenridge Road apartment on the night of the boy’s death, also testified Tuesday.
Lehman said Houdeshell let him into the apartment and told him a child was not breathing in the back bedroom. Lehman said he found the boy not breathing and naked on a bed.
Lehman said he began to administer CPR.
Lehman said he saw bruising and marks on Breydon’s face. He also noticed vomit on the child’s nose. When he asked Houdeshell what had happened, Houdeshell said he heard a thump from the child’s bedroom, went to check on him, and found him dangling off the side of the crib.
“He was extremely calm,” Lehman said about Houdeshell’s demeanor.
When the boy was taken to the hospital, Lehman said, Houdeshell stayed in the apartment with Zaiden and called Young to tell her to go to the hospital.
Lehman said he learned that Breydon had died when Houdeshell got a call, hung up, got a bottle for the baby, turned around and told the officer, “I guess he (Breydon) didn’t make it.”
The trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. today with Judge Reginald Routson presiding. The 14-member jury, including two alternates, includes seven men and seven women.