Jurors deadlock in Monica Dawn Hammers' child abuse trial

Jurors deadlock in Monica Dawn Hammers' child abuse trial

September 29th, 2012 by Joan Garrett McClane in Local Regional News

Monica Hammers, 43, faces a charge of attempted aggravated assault after she allegedly tried to suffocate her 4-year-old son while he was at Erlanger hospital.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Jurors couldn't reach a verdict Friday in the case against Monica Dawn Hammers on a charge of attempted aggravated child abuse.

Hammers, 43, who has remained free on bond during the trial, was accused of holding a pillow over her 4-year-old son's face at Erlanger hospital in May 2011.

Deliberations lasted all day Friday while family and friends waited in the hallway.

Midway through the day the jury surfaced to ask two questions: When can we eat lunch? And what is the definition of injury?

Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman told them he couldn't explain it to them and that they would have to refer to their jury directions.

When jurors said they were at an impasse, Steelman sent them back to deliberate some more, but they eventually reported back that they were split. Prosecutors will have to decide whether to retry her.

During testimony in the trial, a hospital sitter who said she saw Hammers put the pillow on the child's face wouldn't say that Hammers was trying to kill him. She said she didn't know what Hammers was thinking.

The doctors had put a sitter with the child because they had feared the mother was harming him.

Hammers initially was charged with attempted murder, but those charges were dismissed by the court on Thursday.

"I'm happy we didn't lose. I'm sad we didn't win," said Harry Christensen, Hammers' attorney.

After jurors announced they were deadlocked, Hammers, who wore waist-length crimped hair and a black suit, cried in the arms of a woman sitting beside her.

Christensen said he was going to appeal to the court for Hammers to have limited visitation with her son, from whom she has been separated for 17 months.

"I haven't been able to see my son or talk to him," she told Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman.

"She is still accused and has not been acquitted," said Steelman in reply. "She still faces felony charges."

Attorneys agreed to meet again for a status hearing in December.