After two weeks of trial, a jury will start Wednesday deciding the second-degree murder case against a babysitter and Spokane father of four who is charged with “savagely” beating a 10-month-old baby to death in 2017.
Joshua J. Mobley, 31, denied when he took the witness stand Monday that he harmed Caiden Henry, who was found dead by his mother on Feb. 27, 2017. Mobley claimed the baby was awake and took a bottle just before he dropped the infant off at his mother’s one-room apartment, hours before he was discovered dead.
But Deputy Spokane County prosecutors Stephanie Collins and Shane Smith told the jury that Mobley was the only adult who cared for Caiden for more than 10 hours prior to his death. Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. Sally Aiken testified that Caiden suffered 12 to 20 blows, mostly to the head, that caused swelling on the brain that killed him.
Smith reminded the jury that the baby’s mother, Crystal Henry, had found previous injuries on Caiden, including bruising on the head and a cut lip, but that Mobley had explained away the earlier injuries.
“This is a difficult case. Somebody savagely beat a 10-month-old child to death. There are no easy answers,” Smith said. “Crystal Henry made the mistake of believing the defendant. She believed him twice and she was wrong both times. Are you going to believe him, too?”
Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich called on several members of the Mobley family who testified that Joshua Mobley showed them Caiden just hours before he was found dead. The Mobleys all testified they saw none of the extensive bruising on his face and forehead that were present in autopsy photographs.
Instead, Oreskovich suggested that Crystal Henry may have attacked her son after emergency room personnel gave her a medical concoction, which included Benadryl, to help with a severe headache just before Joshua Mobley returned Caiden to her care. Henry found him dead when she awoke.
“We don’t have to prove to you that Crystal Henry did it. She was in a fog. She was medicated,” Oreskovich said. “Maybe Crystal Henry snapped. I ask you to find Joshua Mobley not guilty.”
Henry had been working at a local Moneytree with Joshua Mobley’s wife. The two women changed their schedules, enabling them to care for their children.
On four occasions, Joshua Mobley watched his three children – he and his wife have since had a fourth – and Caiden. On Feb. 20, 2017, Caiden came home with bruising so severe that Crystal Henry reached out to friends about how she should proceed.
Then on Feb. 25, Caiden suffered a cut lip that Joshua Mobley claimed had occurred when he was bouncing the baby on his knee, according to court testimony.
The next day, Caiden stayed with Joshua Mobley for 10 hours until Crystal Henry could finish work. She then had to go to the emergency room to deal with the severe headache.
That afternoon, Joshua Mobley for the first time texted Crystal Henry a photo of Caiden. Collins, the deputy prosecutor, called the picture a “staged photo.”
“Why on the 26th did he feel it necessary” to send a photo of Caiden? Collins said. “He had never before taken a photo of Caiden. Why then? Why go to his parents’ house? Because it was an opportunity to hide Caiden.”
Oreskovich accused the prosecutors of cherry-picking the evidence. He said Joshua Mobley sending a photo of a sleeping Caiden may have just been to assure his mother that her son was fine.
“There are many innocent acts … that they want to argue to you are attempts to cover it up,” Oreskovich said. “Is it a staged picture? Or is it a cute picture sent to a mother to show what a child has been doing? These are important things that are being asked to be interpreted as nefarious things.”
After the Mobleys picked up Crystal Henry on the night of Feb. 26, she called out to Caiden, who was seated in a rear-facing car seat. He didn’t respond.
When they arrived at her apartment, Joshua Mobley insisted that he carry Caiden inside. Henry told police that Mobley put up an arm when she tried to grab Caiden and told her to let the baby sleep.
Thinking nothing was wrong, Henry fell asleep on her couch next to Caiden. She awoke in the early hours thinking she had missed Caiden’s feeding time.
“But instead she found herself performing CPR on a dead child,” Collins said. “We don’t know how long it took Caiden to die.”
Collins played the 911 tape of Crystal Henry calling to report how she found her son.
“My son is dead!” Henry screamed at the dispatcher. “He is not breathing!”
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