KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - The trial of Anthony and Marsha Springer moved into the secondphase when the defense began outlining their case that no crime wascommitted that led to their daughter, Calista, dying in a fire as she was chained to abed.
Calista suffocated as she was chained to her bed when thefamily's Centreville home burned in February 2008.
Tuesday morning, the trial resumed after a three-day break. AMichigan State Police investigator testified Marsha Springer toldhim she had been chaining Calista to her bed for just two days.
Calista's classmates, school and social workers already havetestified Calista was saying for years that she was being chainedto her bed at night.
Detective Sgt. Mike Scott said Marsha Springeralso told him she tried to put out the fire with an extingisher butcouldn't pull the pin out to make it work. Crime scene techs havetestified they found no fire extinguisher in the gutted home.
Scott also testified Marsha Springer told him Calista would biteand punch herself, throw herself into a wall and that medicationshe was given didn't work.
The defense is trying to show the chaining was necessary andthat the Springers only were trying to protect Calista fromherself.
At the end of his interview with her, Scott testified, MarshaSpringer told him: "I'm so sorry, Oh God, what have I done?"
The prosecution rested shortly after the testimony ofthe trooper.
The Springer's defense began Tuesday afternoon. Child psychologist Susan Carter testified thatchildren suffering from Pervasive Development Disorder -- as theSpringers claim Calista had -- are unable to manage their ownemotions, can hurt themselves and others and stay awake all night.Carter said parents of those children are faced with an enormouschallenge, and sometimes burn out.
That's why the Springers claim they chained Calista, to keep herfrom harming herself.
But on cross-examination, Carter was grilled by the prosecutor.She was asked what she would say to parents if she was told theywere restraining "their child to the bed with a dog-chokecollar?"
"I would tell them that they needed to cease doing that," Cartersaid. "I would tell them to find other ways to keep their childsafe and that short of that, I'd have to contact (Child ProtectiveServices) because I'm a mandated reporter if I suspect abuse."
Asked if that would be abuse, Carter said: "It could be."
"These children are unable to manage their own emotions, so whenthey experience negative emotion of any kind, they will generallyexplode into rage," Carter said. "And that rage sometimes isdirected at others and many times is directed at themselves."
She said parenting with children who have the disorder is anenormous challenge. Part of her testimony supported the Springers'contention that Calista was awake and wandering at night if shewasn't restrained.
24 Hour News 8 will continue to follow this trial.
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