Jade Butler described her relationship with Antonio Cathey, who is accused of killing her 17-month-old daughter, as rocky in trial testimony Friday.
The two had been dating since July 2013 and he moved in with her two months’ later. Butler testified that on the night of daughter Kieymani Brewer’s death that October, the three of them had been at a friend’s apartment. Cathey took Kieymani home in search of a phone and a snack for the child.
When she began to wonder what was taking them so long to come back, she went to her apartment and found Kieymani unresponsive with Cathey.
At the emergency room, a doctor testified, Jade Butler was violent, attacking hospital staff and breaking a framed picture at the news of her daughter’s death.
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On Friday, Butler, 26, quietly sobbed as she talked about Kieymani’s first birthday party. She described how happy and healthy her daughter was the last time she saw her conscious.
Cathey is charged with first-degree murder in Kieymani’s death. Butler is charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and accessory after the fact to felony child abuse.
“I want justice for my daughter,” Butler said on the stand Friday.
Kieymani died on Oct. 18, 2013, at Levine’s Children Hospital, where Dr. Randolph Cordle spent more than an hour trying to resuscitate her. Cordle said he diagnosed Kieymani as suffering from massive trauma, which didn’t align with reports of a seizure from Butler and Cathey.
Cordle said he doesn’t know who or what caused caused Kieymani’s injuries, but told detectives, police officers and medical personnel at the hospital that night that child abuse was likely involved.
During a long police interrogation the night after Kieymani died, Cathey repeatedly denied that he had struck the toddler, according to a video of the interview.
“Either you are a cold-blooded baby killer or something went wrong,” one of the detectives responded.
In the video, which was shown Friday during the second day of Cathey’s trial, the defendant said repeatedly that neither he nor Butler had struck the child, and that he did not know how the infant died.
Cathey told police he had given the child some juice in the bedroom of Butler’s apartment on West Boulevard. When he returned, he said, the juice had spilled on the bed and Kieymani’s eyes had rolled back in her head.
An autopsy revealed the infant died from a massive blow or blows that dislodged a kidney, lacerated her liver and left blood pooling throughout her body. Medical Examiner Michael Sullivan testified Thursday that the child also had older injuries, including a fractured skull and broken rib.
In the 2013 video, two detectives repeatedly asked Cathey if he had “popped” or spanked the infant the night she died. As the interrogation continued, the detectives began to raise their voices and bang on the table.
Defense attorney Norman Butler questioned one of his client’s interrogators, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Sgt. Phillip Rainwater, in court Friday. Butler asked why Rainwater didn’t have a transcript of the interrogation, why police didn’t canvass the area around Little Rock Apartments and whether police had questioned Cathey with an open mind.
In opening arguments Thursday, Butler told the jury that evidence in the case does not show who struck Kieymani. He also planted the notion with the jury that Butler could be responsible.
Jamie Gwaltney: 704-358-5612, @jamielgwaltney