By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer
HAMILTON - As a fire killed a 7-month-old boy in his crib - behind a blocked door - his mother shed few tears and showed little concern for her son, witnesses testified Wednesday.
"I didn't have to do much to calm her down. She wasn't hysterical at any point," Jennifer Ward, an emergency medical technician, told a Butler County jury as the trial of Aimee Leonard began in Common Pleas Court.
Leonard, 29, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in the death of her son, Justin Johnson Jr.
The baby died in a trailer fire Feb. 4 in Madison Township, near Middletown. Leonard admitted setting the fire after arguing with the boy's father on the phone about visitation, authorities said. Leonard escaped unharmed. A county child-protection worker later was fired for failing to investigate concerns about Leonard's parenting.
As the fire raged, Leonard repeatedly lamented losing her possessions and her friend's trailer, but only twice asked about the baby, Ward testified.
Another witness, Eric Gadd, said he and other firefighters crawled along the burning trailer's floor, searching for the baby.
"They told us to find the baby and not fight the fire," he said.
A special camera helped them navigate through blinding smoke. They felt an object blocking the baby's bedroom door. They later learned it was a chair, Gadd said.
They got the door open and Gadd saw the crib: "I reached my hand inside the crib and I felt the baby."
Justin's belly and face were burned. Gadd couldn't tell if he was breathing. Gadd handed the baby out a window to the fire chief and left.
"I never had to deal with something like that before," Gadd said, clearing his throat and biting his lip.
Leonard's lawyer, Ron Morgan, offered no opening statement in the trial.
Bishop Woods in peril?
Seton High School details expansion plan
Officer graduates, loses job
County settles on stadium
Gay-rights sides target black vote
Bush, Kerry spar on domestic issues
Noonan: Kerry 'worst of party'
Kerry's plan, Bush's past declarations scrutinized
Xavier students gather, let own voices be heard
Transcript of Bush, Kerry debate
Taft: 'No' on same-sex issue
Insults fly in Senate race
Vote monitor optimistic
Lawyers rate candidates
Westwood and Groob square off tonight
Lawyer sues over lost form to vote
Middletown streets on ballot
Election 2004 page
IN THE TRISTATE
EPA, trash firm debate leak from closed landfill
Council rejects police plans
Fire union disputes cost-saving plan
Museum faces cutbacks
Frist: Doctors leaving Ohio
Two teenagers arrested in Royal Crown hotel fire
Witness: Mom not hysterical, though fire trapped her infant
Local news briefs
Mayor of Madeira retires, is moving to Warren County
Man ruled insane in murder of activist
Milford police chief resigns, halting property misuse case
State audit faults Morrow
Killer who blamed his victim is executed at Lucasville prison
Public safety briefs
Northwest Local Schools loses board president
Sierra Club pushes renewable energy
New drivers get look at real-life tragedies
OT for Bush rally covered
'Thirty Ghosts' uneven
Dancers make impact
Bronson: Council deaf to pleas for crime control
Good Things Happening
Alex C. Papas, 84, made candy
Towne Center should proceed with latest OK
River view the draw for condos
Losing weight inspired teacher to help others
State insurance plan outlined
N. Ky. news briefs
Dad, lawyer run from SUV after custody case; mom held
Most N.Ky. schools meeting state goals
House fire victim loses Fla. home, too
Fletcher blamed for flap