Emotional Defendant Takes the Stand in Child Abuse Trial


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Jasmine Dawkins trial continued in Berkeley County on Thursday.

Dawkins is facing child abuse charges in connection with the death of a three-year old boy, Kaiwon Connelly who died on New Year's Day in 2012. At the time Dawkins was living with the boy's father, James Mauldin, who has been charged with beating him and burning him to death.

On Thursday the defense rested its' case and the jury heard closing arguments. It was very emotional inside the courtroom as Jasmine Dawkins took the stand.

She was seen breaking down into tears as her defense lawyer asked her about what life was like living with her boyfriend and his son, Kaiwon. She told the jury she lived in a world of abuse. In fact, she got so upset talking about it the judge ordered a recess so she could compose herself.

Dawkins took the stand in her defense while her lawyers argued that she should not be held criminally responsible for any abuse to Kaiwon. They claim she was a victim of abuse herself and she was too afraid to get help for the child. Dawkin's lawyer Sherman Lambert asked her about Mauldin's violent history. She told the court there were times Mauldin would physically abuse her and Kaiwon. One time she said he even threatened her with a weapon. 

At the end of her testimony Dawkins' lawyer asked her, "Is there anything else you would like to tell the jury?”

Dawkins tearfully replied, "I tried to do everything to save Kaiwon.”

Forensics Psychiatrist Dr. James Novello was also called to the stand. He testified that Dawkins acts like a victim of abuse. Lambert asked, "Did you treat Dawkins and what was the context of the report?"

Novello said, "She was insecure, vulnerable and hesitant. She subjects herself to abuse rather than to deal with abandonment.”

Lambert also asked, "Did Jasmine describe the relationship with James Mauldin?"

The doctor said Mauldin was possessive, he was attempting to control her and "He even put a gun to her head."

All this was part of the defense's case to prove that she lived in fear and was scared of Mauldin.

After the defense rested its' case, the jury got instructions from the judge and then heard closing arguments. They’re expected to begin deliberations early on Friday. If Dawkins is convicted of all charges against her she could spend 75 years in prison. 

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