MOBILE, Alabama — The common-law wife of a man on trial for the deaths of his two children told police he said to her after disposing of one of the bodies: "Now you have to be with me forever."
Jurors in the Mobile County trial of John DeBlase heard recorded interviews Friday that Heather Keaton gave to police several months after the children's deaths. Both DeBlase and Keaton are charged with capital murder in the deaths of his 4-year-old daughter, Natalie, and his 3-year-old son, Chase. DeBlase is standing trial first, with Keaton scheduled to be tried separately in March 2015.
The couple had moved to Louisville, Kentucky, when Keaton was first questioned about the children by police in August 2010. One child's body was found in Citronelle, Alabama. The other was found in Mississippi.
During the 90-minute interview, Keaton said Natalie had been having problems with potty training and other behavioral issues when she got sick in March 2010. She said she smelled a toxic odor on the child's breath and saw her vomit "black stuff" two days before she died. Keaton told police the boy died about three months later after his breath took on a similar odor "like death."
Authorities have said the children died by poisoning, asphyxiation, starving and dehydration. Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich has said the case will show Keaton severely disciplined the children and DeBlase killed them to end their suffering.
Initially, Keaton told police she didn't know what happened to the children.
"We don't have them," she said. "I don't even know where they are, if they're alive or not alive."
She later went on to describe their illnesses and deaths. She said Chase died in her arms after DeBlase refused to get medical help for the boy. After Natalie died, she said, DeBlase took her body to leave it in the woods and afterward told Keaton: "Now you have to be with me forever because it's your fault."
DeBlase's defense attorneys have said Keaton controlled the couple's relationship and her disciplinary tactics led to the deaths.
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