Brook Stagles murder trial: Witness says defendant was abused

September 21, 2017 07:25 PM

The final witness in the Brook Stagles trial testified that the defendant, Erica Bell, was abused by Stagles' biological father, Michael Stagles. 

Brook Stagles died when she was just three-years-old. She died as a result of abuse she received. The District Attorney's office says Bell did the abuse. 

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On the stand, Erica Bell's former boyfriend Frank Cirrido testified he never saw Bell use "assaultive behavior" on anyone. 

Cirrido says he saw Bell last year with bruises on her wrists and arms and had cigarette burns on her neck and forearms. Cirrido testified he confronted Michael Stagles about the injuries and testified Stagles replied "it only happened once."

The defense strategy is that Bell was an abuse victim starting in her childhood.

The prosecution says Bell punched Brook three times in the stomach and the punches were so hard it ripped her intestines. And then, the prosecution says Bell actively prevented Brook Stagles from getting to a doctor.

"She spent the day with a dying three year old and her grandmother gallivanting around Monroe County," said prosecutor Sara Van Strydonck.

Prosecutor Sara Van Strydonck says instead of getting Brook Stagles help, Erica Bell put her in a car and drove for fast food, went to a party and even bought and shot up drugs.

"Then she's taking to North Clinton Avenue where heroin in bought," says Van Strydonck. "And she watches her mommy, as she calls her, prepare the drugs and shoot up in her arm the heroin."

"What we do know is that she had no intention of ever injuring the child and she had no intention of ever depriving the child of any care or treatment," said Lawrence Kasperek, lawyer.

The defense says Erica Bell was a victim of abuse, controlled by her boyfriend, dominated by drugs and didn't know how badly Brook Stagles was hurt.

"Nobody has said that our client caused the bruising which was clearly evident in all the photographic information presented at this trial," said Kasperek.


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