Thursday, September 14, 2000

Father's statements recounted to court

Detective says he admitted hitting girl, 2

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — At first, Christopher Fuller told police detectives that his 2-year-old daughter choked on a glass of water.

        After questioning, he admitted that he got mad when she refused to hug him, so he hit her twice in the chest.

        A short time later, he said he had hit her after she resisted his attempt to sexually assault her.

        Hamilton Police Detective Jim Calhoun testified Wednesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court about Mr. Fuller's statements to police about the March 21 death of his daughter, Randi.

        “I keep stuff bottled up, and today I just snapped,” Mr. Fuller said in a statement read in court by Detective Calhoun.

        Mr. Fuller, 29, of Hamilton is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and rape. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

        Prosecutors say that after hitting Randi, Mr. Fuller covered her mouth and pressed on her chest, suffocating her.

        Detective Calhoun said that as soon as Mr. Fuller became a suspect, police informed him of his rights to an attorney and to remain silent. Mr. Fuller signed a paper waiving those rights and signed a typewritten statement taken from his answers to questions, he said.

        He said at the end of about four hours of questioning, Mr. Fuller told detectives that he had sexually assaulted Randi in May 1999 and last February.

        He said that Mr. Fuller told them that on the day Randi died, he asked the girl for “some loving.”

        “I think she knew what I wanted,” Mr. Fuller says in his statement to police. “That's why she said no.”

        Detective Calhoun said that when Mr. Fuller was told that Randi was dead, he rolled on the hospital floor and screamed.

        “It looked like a forced display of emotion,” Detective Calhoun said.

        Dr. James Swinehart, a forensic pathologist with the Butler County Coroner's Office, testified that Randi suffocated. “It might have been smothering, pressure applied to the chest or manual strangulation,” he said. “I don't know exactly how it happened. It could have been any combination of those things.”

        Bruises on the neck, face and chest and pinpoint hemorrhages in the right eyelid indicate suffocation, Dr. Swinehart said.

        Defense attorney Christopher Pagan told Dr. Swinehart that a man who had given Randi CPR testified earlier in the trial that he pulled an object like a soggy piece of bread from her mouth.

        Mr. Pagan asked whether such an object could cause suffocation.

        “If it's just in the mouth, I wouldn't have much concern about it,” Dr. Swinehart said.

        Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer said there was no evidence of obstruction in Randi's throat.


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