A woman suggested binding her developmentally disabled 3-year-old foster son inside a closet while the family was away for the weekend, making her responsible for his death even if she did not intend it, prosecutors said as her murder trial opened.
A defense attorney, however, argued Thursday that Liz Carroll was a wife intimidated into going along with a plan hatched by her husband and his live-in lover.
Carroll, 29, is charged with murder because prosecutors say she caused Marcus Fiesel's death by restraining him as she did. She and her husband also are charged with involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping, felonious assault and three counts of child endangerment.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Daniel "Woody" Breyer said Carroll suggested wrapping the boy in a blanket and leaving him alone while she and her husband, David Carroll Jr., and Amy Baker, who lived with the couple, went to a weekend family reunion in August.
Breyer told jurors that the child was wrapped "much like a cocoon" with only his head and bare feet sticking out, and had been left that way before when the adults ran errands.
"He was confined as effectively as if he had been placed in a straitjacket," Breyer said.
The child was dead when the Carrolls and Baker returned two days later.
The Carrolls made up a story that he had wandered off or been taken from a park, prompting a massive search by authorities and volunteers.
Defense attorney Gregory Cohen told the jury Liz Carroll was a caring person devoted to children and that David Carroll and Baker were responsible for the boy's death.
"I believe the evidence will show somebody else belongs there," Cohen told jurors of the prosecution's argument, pointing to an empty chair by his client at the defense table.
In addition to murder, David Carroll, 30, is accused of burning the boy's body and dumping the remains in the Ohio River, and is charged with gross abuse of a corpse. He is to be tried next month, reports AP.
Baker, 25, has not been charged and is expected to be the main witness against the Carrolls, who also face trial on lesser charges, including perjury and inducing panic, on their claim that the boy disappeared from the park.
The child was placed with the Carrolls three months before he died. The case prompted an independent review that found Butler County Children Services officials were not notified of David Carroll's domestic violence arrest.
The detective who issued the report recommended the agency conduct better background checks and communicate more often with police.
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