Pavlis Trial: Defendant's Video Statement Shown

Date: 2005-04-14

Pavlis Trial: Defendant's Video Statement Shown

Adoptive Mother Said She 'Lost Control'

POSTED: 1:49 pm CDT April 14, 2005
UPDATED: 2:12 pm CDT April 14, 2005

CHICAGO -- The trial of a Schaumburg woman accused of beating her 6-year-old adopted son to death in 2003 resumed Thursday morning.

During the morning testimony prosecutors played the 45-minute videotaped statement given by the defendant, Irma Pavlis, to Assistant State's Attorney Cathy Nauheimer.

Pavlis appears calm on the tape, speaking with a Spanish accent and dressed in a dark sweater. Under questioning from Nauheimer, Pavlis frequently described Alex as "defiant" and herself as "frustrated" in the weeks leading up to Dec. 18, 2003.

"I just didn't know how to control him anymore, and I started getting more physical with him," Pavlis said on the tape.

She said the violence escalated from grabbing him and forcing him to sit on the toilet, to spanking him with her hand and a cord and slapping him on the head.

On Dec. 16, 2003, Pavlis said on the tape, she "lost control" after Alex had wet himself again, then seemed to "pretend" to faint as she disciplined him. Gesturing to the camera, Pavlis showed in the video how she wrenched the boy's neck and slapped him several times in the face, at one point injuring the back of her own hand.

Two days later, Pavlis said on the tape, she "lost it" again when Alex urinated in front of her. She said she shook him violently and "punched him a couple times, or three times, on the stomach.

"Still angry, she said, she pushed him into a closet door and bent him over to spank him again. Pavlis said the beating went on for about 15 minutes.

"At that point I was like, God, I got to stop myself," Pavlis said on the tape.

But by that point, Alex's eyes had rolled back in his head and he seemed to be struggling to breathe, Pavlis said. She said that at first she thought he was pretending to be sick, out of defiance, as she thought he did two days earlier.

Pavlis said that by the time she realized Alex was seriously injured, 30 to 45 minutes had passed, and she tried to administer aid, as she grew increasingly desperate."I was holding him saying, 'C'mon Alex,'" Pavlis said.

"I was desperate. I knew I have to do something, I have to go somewhere or call somebody."

She said she eventually called her husband at work and said, "Alex did the fainting thing again and it looks like he's dead."

Her husband told her to call 911, she said.

At the conclusion of the statement, Nauheimer asked Pavlis why she decided to tell investigators all of the details of the beatings.

Pavlis replied: "I think it's the right thing to do at this point."

"I felt like I had to say the whole thing, how it happened, that I was more involved," Pavlis said on the tape.

She also said that it was important for investigators to know that Alex would also injure himself."

He would fall, he hit his head, and he did many things to himself," Pavlis said. "But I did some things, too."

Sitting at the defense table Thursday in a blue and white striped sweater, Pavlis watched most of the videotape with her left elbow resting on the table and her left hand covering part of her face. She was sobbing at times.

Judge Thomas Fecarotta recessed the trial for lunch immediately after the tape ended. He said defense attorneys would begin their cross-examination of Nauheimer at 1:45 p.m.


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