Playing Foster Mom: Crackers Choked Child To Death
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Reported by Chris Tatum
February 28, 2008 / WSMV.com
McMINNVILLE, Tenn. -- A foster mother accused of killing a 6-year-old girl who was in her care told jurors her side of the story on Thursday.
Sherri Mathis took the stand in her own defense and said 6-year-old Cheyenne Delp had been sick to her stomach the day she died, so she gave her some crackers that she said choked Delp to death.
Prosecutors cited the injuries found on Delp during an autopsy in their rebuttal to Mathis’ story.
According to the 911 tape that was played in court, Mathis tried to revive Delp using CPR after she had stopped breathing.
Prosecutors said Mathis killed Delp by choking her to death.
“So, we’re not going to have a ‘Perry Mason’ moment in this courtroom where you break down on the witness stand and confess, right?” a prosecutor said.
“No, sir,” Mathis said.
Prosecutors tried to poke holes in Mathis’ testimony and argued that she sometimes withheld food from Delp and sometimes force fed her. Prosecutors also showed Mathis autopsy photos of Delp that showed severe bruises to her body.
Mathis said she didn’t have the strength to cause that type of injury.
“Do you have any explanation, Ms. Mathis, for the hemorrhages that were in her neck at autopsy?” a prosecutor said.
“No, sir; none,” she said.
Mathis admitted to whipping Delp on some occasions.
“I did whip her, sir,” she told prosecutors.
“And what do you mean by whipping?” he said.
“Two or three smacks on the bottom, sir,” she said.
Attorneys on both side said they hope to wrap closing arguments on Friday and hope the judge is able to hand the case to the jury on Monday.
Delp’s two brothers also lived with Mathis. Delp’s biological parents and grandparents were present in court on Thursday. Delp's parents were going to jail due to drug problems and had asked Mathis to take care of them so they wouldn't be turned over to the state.
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