Todd Boderick and Krishay Mouzon waited for an hour in 2012 to call for help after discovering their infant daughter had stopped breathing in their west Charlotte motel room, Mouzon testified Monday in her former boyfriend’s murder trial.
Boderick told Mouzon to wait until morning to call 911 and pressured his girlfriend to tell police that 6-month-old Keyoni Mouzon died after being dropped by her 4-year-old sister, Mouzon testified.
Both are charged with murder in the recurring assaults that killed Keyoni. In an unusual courtroom drama, the couple sparred back and forth over the events surrounding the child’s death. Boderick, 28, is serving as his own attorney in his first-degree murder case; Mouzon, 24, was testifying as a key state witness.
If convicted, Boderick faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Mouzon, who also faces trial, said she agreed to testify with no promises for a lighter sentence.
“Do you expect to get anything for your testimony?” prosecutor Bill Bunting asked.
Mouzon, shackled on the witness stand, offered a terse reply. “I expect the truth to come out about Keyoni,” she said.
In another unusual twist, Boderick’s fate rests in a single pair of hands – Superior Court Judge Robert Sumner’s. Legal experts say this may be the first murder trial in North Carolina legal history without a jury. It is made possible by a 2014 state constitutional amendment allowing so-called bench trials in felony cases at the defendant’s request.
According to Mouzon’s testimony, Keyoni was never the same after being left with Boderick at the Southern Comfort Inn the night of Oct. 25, 2012.
When Mouzon returned 20 minutes later, she said Keyoni was asleep on her stomach – unusual for the infant. Over the next two days, Keyoni ate little and never opened her eyes, her mother said. When Mouzon says she picked her up, the child’s head lolled forward, and her arms and legs hung limp.
Just before 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 27, Mouzon said Keyoni seemed pale. She said she put her ear to the infant’s chest but couldn’t hear a heartbeat. An hour later, the couple was still debating whether to call 911. Boderick, she said, wanted to wait until morning. She also testified that he pressured her to say Keyoni had been hurt after being dropped by visiting her big sister.
Keyoni died of extensive and recurring injuries to most of her body. She had brain and spine damage caused by blows or extreme shaking, an expert medical witness testified Friday. Most of her ribs had been broken on at least two occasions. She had scars on her face, back and legs that had come from scratches deep enough to draw blood.
At the hospital that night, Mouzon testified, she told police her daughter had been dropped. She said she was afraid to tell the truth because Boderick watched at the window while she talked with detectives in a waiting room. Later, at the police station, Mouzon said she took back what she said out of guilt for blaming her living daughter.
At the close of his questioning, prosecutor Bunting bored in on Mouzon’s own culpability for the violence that encompassed her daughter’s life.
Did you hit or throw Keyoni? Did you do anything to break her ribs or leave scars on her face and legs? he asked.
No, Mouzon said. She said Keyoni left the scars by scratching herself.
“Did you ever take her to the doctor?” Bunting asked, his voice rising.
For her four-month checkup, Mouzon replied.
Mouzon and Boderick’s relationship appears to have been as violent as it was transient. They met in Eastland Mall about a decade ago, Mouzon said. They became a couple in 2010 after Boderick got out of jail and Mouzon was about to give birth to a son by another man.
Later that year, they were arrested and charged with child abuse after the infant son was hospitalized with injuries similar to Keyoni’s. The couple told police back then that the boy also had been dropped. The charges were later dismissed.
Boderick and Mouzon lived with family or in extended-stay motels. They were thrown out of the Days Inn on Woodlawn after they brawled. And the couple broke up when Mouzon was seven months pregnant with Keyoni after she says Boderick punched her.
Keyoni’s life began and ended in inexpensive motel rooms. She was born in April 2012 in a Travel Inn off Sugar Creek Road. Police found her body six months later lying between the beds of her parents’ motel room off Tuckaseegee Road.
When Boderick had his chance to question Mouzon on Monday he opened with the familiar. “Hey ’Shay,” he said as Mouzon looked away.
With the help of attorney Calvin Coleman, who is acting as his legal resource during the trial, Boderick led Mouzon through a series of earlier statements she made that Boderick had nothing to do with Keyoni’s death, and that she was being pressured by authorities to testify against him.
He also led his former girlfriend through emails she sent him while he was in jail, including one on Jan. 30, 2013. How could Mouzon say she was scared of Boderick when she called him “baby” in the note and said she would “never leave his side?” Boderick asked.
Reading from a March 27 email, Boderick said Mouzon wrote that she would never “walk away because you loved me and Keyoni so much, and that you couldn’t wait for me to come home so we could start another family.”
Boderick looked toward the witness box. “Why would you want to start another family with me?” he asked.
Mouzon replied in an emotionless voice. “That was before I was locked up and I thought I was in love with you,” she said.
Mouzon was arrested and charged with Keyoni’s murder the next day.