Child's mother takes stand
Former boyfriend charged in death
By Julie Arrington
The adoptive mother of a toddler who was allegedly beaten to death testified Friday that she did not harm her son.
Joshua Pinckney was nearly 2 and a half years old Feb. 13, 2009, when Miriam Pinckney found him dead in her home on Catalina Drive.
The mother of two pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to one count of first-degree cruelty to children in connection with her son’s death. She was sentenced to five years in prison and 15 years probation.
Pinckney and her former boyfriend, Christopher Brian Gilreath, were each indicted in November on one count of murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of aggravated battery.
Both were also indicted on two counts of first-degree cruelty to children and one count of possession of cocaine.
Testimony in Gilreath’s jury trial began Wednesday in front of Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley. It is scheduled to resume Monday.
Previous witnesses have testified that Joshua Pinckney’s body and face were bruised and that an autopsy discovered six blows to his head.
Testimony has also revealed that two samples taken from the house tested positive for marijuana.
Pinckney took the stand as a witness for the prosecution Thursday and Friday. She said she did not injure her son, nor was she home when he was injured.
“I failed to get him medical care that he needed,” Pinckney said. “I failed to properly inspect him.”
Pinckney said when she walked into the boy’s room before leaving for work Feb. 13, 2009, her adopted daughter, who was nearly 2 at the time, sat up and pointed at him. There was brown vomit on the bed.
“I picked him up and it was obvious he was dead,” Pinckney said.
She sobbed as she recalled how she ran screaming with the child in her arms upstairs to where Gilreath was sleeping and then back down to find her phone and call 911.
Pinckney said Gilreath told her to take the boy to the emergency room because the house wasn’t clean. “I thought, ‘I don’t care if the house is clean, my baby’s dead.’”
Pinckney testified that she had left both children at home with Gilreath on Feb. 12, 2009, while she went to work in Atlanta.
Gilreath told her on the phone that morning the boy had a messy diaper and had to be washed off in the shower downstairs.
She came home for about 15 minutes at lunch and Gilreath told her Joshua was taking a nap. She said the boy was sound asleep in a bed upstairs, covered to his shoulders with a blanket.
Pinckney said she didn’t see any injuries on the child, but that Gilreath suggested she “teach Joshua some manners.” He later told her on the phone that the boy “must’ve fallen” and had a bruise on his cheek and a scrape on his chin.
When she came home for the day about 5:45 p.m., Gilreath told her he had put the boy to bed after he fell asleep.
Pinckney detailed how the child was in the same position on the same bed, covered up the same way as at lunchtime. He didn’t wake up or move when she put some salve on his cheek and under his chin.
Pinckney also shared with the court how Gilreath’s pit bull, Rusty, had bitten her daughter on the cheek about two weeks before her son died. She said she took the girl to a hospital, where she received stitches and antibiotics.
With Gilreath’s permission, she drove the dog 200 miles away on the night of Feb. 10, 2009, dropping it off somewhere near the Georgia/Tennessee border.
Pinckney’s former co-workers, Dione Watson and Andrea Boyd, testified that sometime before the child's death, Pinckney told them that Gilreath complained he’d gone to sleep an electrician and woke up a nanny.
Earlier in the trial, Pinckney’s husband John testified that they had been separated for several months when their son died.
He said their adopted daughter is living with him in South Carolina. The couple is in the process of getting a divorce.