Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Suffocation is trial question

Father's side in murder case denies he smothered child

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Prosecutors and the attorneys for Christopher Fuller agree that he struck his 2-year-old daughter in the chest.

        But they disagree on whether he suffocated her.

        Mr. Fuller struck Randi in the chest on March 21 after she resisted his attempt to sexually assault her, then he covered her mouth and pressed on her chest, Butler County Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer said Tuesday in But ler County Common Pleas Court.

        “After Randi passed out, he kept applying pressure until she was dead,” he said in his opening statement at Mr. Fuller's trial.

        But defense attorney Ron Morgan disputed that.

        “He did not attempt to stop her from breathing, and he did not attempt to kill her,” he said.

        Mr. Fuller, 29, of Hamilton, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and rape. He will be tried separately on the rape charge.

        If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty.

        Mr. Gattermeyer said that two forensic pathologists will testify that Randi died from suffocation.

        Terry Thomin, who worked in a grocery store next to Mr. Fuller's house, testified that about 2:30 p.m. March 21, Mr. Fuller carried Randi's limp body into the store.

        He said Mr. Fuller yelled, “Help me! Please help me! I don't know what to do.”

        While someone called 911, Mr. Thomin administered CPR until the Hamilton Life Squad arrived. He said Randi showed no signs of life.

        Mr. Thomin cried as he talked about his futile attempts to revive her. He said he saw bruises on the girl's chest, face and neck. Mr. Fuller did not cry at the store, he said.

        Jalen Winland, a Hamilton police dispatcher who spoke with Mr. Fuller on the 911 call, said he was calm. Two Hamilton police officers also said Mr. Fuller was unemotional during attempts to revive his daughter.

        But after he was told Randi was dead, Mr. Fuller began rolling on the floor and hollering, said Hamilton paramedic David Wendt.

        Police Sgt. Steve Ebbing said Mr. Fuller told him at the grocery store that he gave Randi a glass of water and left the room for a minute.

        “He said that when he returned,” Sgt. Ebbing said, “she was laying on the floor not breathing.”


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