LAWTON, Okla._The trial of a Lawton woman charged with child neglect in connection with the death of her 4-month-old child started Monday at the Comanche County Courthouse.
Christine Huling, 27, faces up to life in prison if convicted of the crime. She was arrested, along with her boyfriend, at his home in September 2014. Police had been called there on a report that a child had died. Once they entered the home, investigators discovered the child's body.
Jury selection began at 10:00 a.m. and took about three-and-a-half hours, which was a little longer than normal for a case like this. Once they were seated, opening statements were delivered late Monday afternoon.
The prosecution painted a picture of what they believe happened the night that baby Elizabeth was found dead. They say Huling and her boyfriend, Jacob Brenke, and two other family members had been drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana all night, and that the baby was put down to sleep on a roach infested mattress. The prosecution went on to say when they arrived to the home on a call of a dead baby, Huling hid from them and Brenke said she wasn't home.
The prosecution also described the baby's body to have been covered with roach bites.
However, during the defense's opening statement, they maintained those marks were actually from a pre-diagnosed rash from when the baby was brought to the doctor earlier in the week. The defense also says Huling was concerned for her safety and hid because she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest on an unrelated charge.
The defense also said that the condition of the couple's home was simply due to the fact that they had severe money problems and the condition of the home does not make her a neglectful parent. As for the alcohol she drank on the night of the baby's death, her attorney noted that the amount she drank was small, as Huling was one of four adults who were sharing a pint of whiskey.
Following Monday's opening statements, court was adjourned and testimony will begin Tuesday morning.
A representative from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office, members of the Brenke family and the investigating officers who responded to the home are expected to be called to the stand.