Jury trial begins in baby’s death

A Franklin man was angry about how much the mother of his child was working and that a relative was staying with them and concerned about finances on the day his daughter died, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said on that day in September 2015, Christopher M. Potts threw his 7-month-old daughter, causing a skull fracture that led to her death.

But Potts’ attorneys say that police and prosecutors haven’t proven that Potts was the person who hurt the baby girl, and two other people were in the Franklin apartment the day she died.

Potts was charged with battery causing death in a child under age 14, and his jury trial began this week in Johnson County Superior Court 3. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

Emergency workers were called to Franklin Place Apartments in September 2015 after the baby was found unresponsive. She was rushed to Johnson Memorial Hospital, but did not survive. An autopsy showed she had died of blunt force trauma to her head, after she suffered a skull fracture to both the back and side of her head.

In an interview with police, Potts gave different versions of what happened to the baby, saying she had fallen while playing with a relative, had hit her head on a swing or that he had dropped her while performing CPR. But police would then tell Potts what the pathologist who performed the autopsy said and that his story wasn’t matching, Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Carrie Miles said.

Potts, who was the last person to see the baby alive, eventually told police, “I didn’t just drop her,” Miles said. He told police he was mad and threw her down. When police asked how hard he threw her, Potts told them: “too hard.”

“For that, at the end of the evidence, we will ask you to hold him responsible,” Miles said.

Potts’ attorney, Matthew Solomon, told jurors that police had focused in on Potts from the very beginning in a one-sided investigation.

They spoke with one relative who was staying at the home one time for a matter of minutes, and they never read the baby’s mother her rights and didn’t view her as a suspect, even though she also told police more than one version of what happened, he said.

Their investigation wasn’t aimed at getting to the truth, and instead was focused on finding someone to hold responsible, he said.

Potts also spoke with police for 90 minutes, but did little of the talking, and was treated like a liar, Solomon said.

“Because the investigation was flawed, we are not any closer to knowing what happened today, than we were after the girl died,” Solomon said.

Attorneys expected the trial to last three to four days.

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.