KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) -- The defense rested its case afterAnthony Springer, testifying in his own defense, said he noticedhis daughter Calista showed "strange behavior" even as apre-schooler.
He and his wife, Marsha, are on trial in the murder, child abuseand torture of their 16-year-old daughter who died in a house fireas she was chained to her bed.
The prosecution chose not to cross-examineSpringer.
Springer said Calista in her early life "seemed not to be ableto comprehend basic numbers," had trouble walking and could notgrasp how to use basic utensils such as spoons.
He also testifed that Calista had high levels of lead, enough tocause brain damage.
Springer testified he did his own research to learn about lead,how to treat it and testified in detail at what they did to try toprevent her from further household lead contamination.
Contradicting prosecution contentions that they treated Calistadifferently, Springer testified that Calista ate the same thingthat he, Marsha and their other two daughters ate.
He said he served everyone at dinner and made their breakfastsas well. Marsha Springer is legally blind.
They never withheld food from Calista as a punishment, as theprosecution has argued, but would sometimes give her leftovers -instead of what others ate - if she stole or acted up.
Springer told the jury that Calista, even at age 16, still hadnot learned how to ride a bike and lacked eye-hand coordination tobe able to do any sports. She would prefer to sit and do nothingrather than play outdoors.
Springer said Calista liked to read, do puzzles and watch TV andwas learning basic sewing. But, he said, she destroyed 10 or 12Barbie dolls.
In his sometimes tearful testimony Anthony Springertold the jury that when they tried to discipline Calista with timeouts she "would slam her head as hard as she could into thatcorner." He said they then would have her sit on the floor as atime out where Marsha, with limited sight, could also see her.
Springer said he saw Calista do dangerous things. At one time in1999, he said, he woke up one night and saw her standing at thefoot of the bed holding a knife. At other times, he saw herdrinking from a bird bath in the yard, heard his other girlsscreaming and ran to find Calista beating his coon hound with a 4'branch. He also related the time she swung a cat around by thetail. The cat died later that day.
Calista, he said, would eat rotten food from the garbage.Springer testified that at times Calista would pinch the back ofher hand, pick her nose until it bled and pull the hair off herarms.
Anthony Springer said that when Calista got angry "she could bevery dangerous." He related an incident when she slammed her headinto a wall and kicked and clawed him when he tried to pull heraway.
Springer testified they decided they had to restrain her first when she was around 5. He saysthey put guards on the window screen and a hook on the door.
Eventually, he said, they used two door alarms to keep Calistain her room at night. Then they used a bed alarm to try to keepCalista in it, but she defeated a series of attempts to make itwork, he said.
He tried to find something she couldn't cut. One day in hisgarage, he concluded he would switch to a "dog choke collar" because it was smooth andsafe.
Springer said Calista slept chained to the bed only two or threenights while he was figuring how to use the alarm succesfullyagain. But then the house burned and Calista suffocated chained toher bed.
The prosecutor alleges the Springers removed Calista from publicschools and from society after the 6th grade because people werequestioning their care of her after she told classmates and schoolworkers she was being chained at night.
But Anthony Springer said the reason they took her out of schoolwas "that the school was much more interested in her education thanher behavioral issues and I felt that she could not operate in asociety without learning how to have the correct behavioralmodifications. She was never going to be a rocket scientist."
Springer said he would have been happy if Calista as an adultcould be in an assisted living facility and have some kind ofjob.
He said he was balancing the risk between what would happen ifCalista hurt herself during the night and what could happen if shewere chained. He said the greater likelihood was Calista would hurtherself or someone else if she wasn't restrained.
The defense is trying to prove that the Springers were onlytrying to keep her safe when they chained her to her bed at nightand that the chaining had been going on only a couple of daysbefore she died.
Prosecution witnesses, however, have testified that Calista hadbeen chained for years to her bed.
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