WOMAN DENIES CAUSING DEATH OF INFANT DAUGHTER
By Darrell Glover P-I Reporter
A nurse practitioner accused of fatally beating her 2-year-old daughter testified yesterday that she thought the child had the stomach flu and suffered a seizure the night she was rushed to a hospital unconscious.
Noreen Marie Erlandson, 39 ((age)), of Bothell is accused of beating, biting and burning her adopted Korean daughter, Kayla. Her trial on a second-degree murder charge is in its third week in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Kayla had a severe burn on one arm and 65 bruises and other injuries on her body when she was flown to Harborview Medical Center April 24. She also had a bite on her neck that prosecutors said was inflicted by Erlandson. The child died of a head injury April 26 after an operation to relieve pressure on her brain.
The defense contends Kayla died of a blocked artery that cut off blood and oxygen to the brain and that she had bruises from falling down a lot because of poor motor skills. The defense also said Kayla suffered facial cuts and bruises April 10 when she fell into a 5-gallon water bottle while with a baby sitter.
Erlandson, under questioning by defense attorney David Allen, said Kayla vomited several times after dinner April 24 and apparently hit her head on the toilet when she slipped on the vomit.
Erlandson said when she tried to lower Kayla into a bathtub of hot water, Kayla ``cried out a little bit and lifted her left arm out of the water" She said the arm was a ``little red" and that she put some burn ointment on it.
Under cross-examination by Deputy Prosecutor Ken Cowsert, Erlandson admitted that the water was too hot for Kayla. But she said the burn didn't blister and denied causing the severe burn shown in photos of Kayla.
``I don't think I caused that burn in the picture," she said.
Erlandson also said she didn't know anything about the bite mark on Kayla's neck.
After cleaning Kayla up, Erlandson said, she put the child to bed. She said Kayla was ``whimpering a bit" but seemed all right.
But when she checked on her about 10 p.m., Erlandson said, Kayla was breathing heavily.
``I picked her up, and she didn't wake up," Erlandson said, adding she called Kayla's name and she still didn't wake up.
About that time, Erlandson's husband, Doug, arrived home from a business trip. Erlandson said both she and her husband tried to wake the child.
Doug Erlandson testified earlier that ``one of us might have" slapped Kayla in the face.
Noreen Erlandson said she thought Kayla was having a seizure brought on by a high temperature. Her husband called the family pediatrician, who told them to call 911, Erlandson said.
Cowsert asked Erlandson repeatedly why she called the family doctor before calling 911 when her daughter was unconscious. In retrospect, Erlandson said, Kayla needed more than a call to a physician but at the time, she didn't know that.
Cowsert also intimated that Erlandson was frustrated with Kayla because she had temper tantrums and caused other problems for the family.
``You didn't care much for Kayla at that point," on the night she was found unresponsive, Cowsert said.
``That's not true," Erlandson said.