On July 9, 2018, a 3-year-old girl left in the care of Jeremiah R. Smith was burned so severely by scalding water that she ended up spending three weeks in the Westchester Medical Center burn unit and was forced to undergo plastic surgery.
In Ulster County Court on Tuesday, a prosecutor told a seven-woman, five-man jury that Smith intentionally caused the first- and second-degree burns to the child's lower body by holding her down in a tub of scalding water.
The defense, meanwhile, said the child was burned in a tragic accident when Smith, who was babysitting at the time, left the child unattended in a tub filling with water.
In her opening statement to the jury, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Klein told jurors she will present evidence that will leave them no doubt that Smith intended to inflict the injuries that left the little girl screaming in pain.
She said jurors will hear from emergency personnel that the child cried "no more tubby, no more tubby, he held me down," and from the doctors who treated the child that she screamed in agony from the pain.
Klein said doctors will testify about the "dire condition" the child was in when she first arrived by ambulance in the emergency room at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley's Broadway Campus in Kingston and about bruises she said "ominously" began to appear on the child's torso as doctors worked to stabilize her.
Defense Attorney Joseph O'Connor conceded Smith was responsible for the child being burned, but he said what happened was an accident.
O'Connor said Smith put the child into a tub with the water running, then left the bathroom to do some cleaning and heard the child scream.
"My client violated a rule of parenting: Never leave a child unattended in a bath," O'Connor said. "He's a dope," the lawyer said. "He's a moron. ... If you're a parent, you want to grab him, choke him."
But, O'Connor said, jurors will hear that when Smith heard the child cry out, he rushed back into the bathroom and grabbed her from the tub, tried to splash cold water on her and then "raced her to the sink" then to the air conditioner to try to cool the her burns. Also, the defense lawyer, said, it was Smith who called 911.
"At the end of this case, we will show you a list of reasons to doubt this injury was caused intentionally," O'Connor said. "You'll want to scream at him ... but you will not at any time say he intentionally injured that child."
KINGSTON, N.Y. — On July 9, 2018, a 3-year-old girl left in the care of a Port Ewen man was burned so severely by scalding water that she ended up