LIMA — Vicki Shellabarger was described as emotionless and “non-caring” the night her 22-month-old daughter was found unresponsive in their Delphos apartment by a Delphos emergency medical technician.
Shellabarger’s trial for the April 29, 2018, death of her daughter, Madilynn Shellabarger, opened Tuesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court. The 38-year-old woman is charged with murder, an unclassified felony; involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; endangering children, a second-degree felony; and a third-degree count of endangering children.
Prosecutors called on an FBI special agent, a hospital emergency room nurse and a physician who tried to resuscitate Madilynn the night of her death. A witness painted a picture of an at-times emotionless Vicki Shellabarger, whose demeanor he said shifted from hysterical to “non-caring.”
Shellabarger dabbed away tears as the state played audio of her 911 call the night of Madilynn’s death, in which a hysterical — and at times inaudible — Shellabarger pleads with the dispatcher that her daughter has stopped breathing.
Shellabarger’s demeanor was a central theme of Tuesday’s arguments.
An emergency medical technician who transported Shellabarger and her daughter to the hospital described Shellabarger’s demeanor as “non-caring, maybe upset,” unless she was on the phone with loved ones. A charging nurse described Shellabarger as hysterical one minute and having “little to no emotion” when she spoke with the nurse in private.
“She would appear to be crying during the phone call,” said Devin Rabe, an EMT with Delphos EMS who transported Shellabarger and her daughter to the hospital that night, “and then as soon as she hung up the phone she would stop crying and act like nothing was happening.”
Rabe testified on Tuesday that on one of those phone calls he overheard Shellabarger say she put Madilynn to bed around 6:30 p.m., only to check on her again around 10 and 10:30 p.m.
Prosecutors focused on that timeline, suggesting that Shellabarger offered inconsistent statements to doctors and first responders that night.
The state called on Nathan Stechschulte, a charging nurse who spoke with Shellabarger the night of Madilynn’s death. He testified that Shellabarger told him she put Madilynn to bed around 10 or 10:30 p.m.—a different timeline than she allegedly offered the EMT on her way to the hospital— and that nothing out of the ordinary occurred before she found her daughter unresponsive.
Stechschulte described bruises found on Madilynn’s body, which appeared to be in various stages of healing, and noted that a nurse who inspected Madilynn also raised concerns about possible sexual abuse.
The state’s final witness Tuesday was Dr. Angelo Collins, the attending physician who tried to resuscitate Madilynn the night of her death.
Collins told jurors that Madilynn’s body temperature was so low that she possibly died hours before arriving at the hospital; that at 22-months-old, Madilynn was too old for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to be the cause of death; and that while he did not determine a cause of death, the bruises on Madilynn’s body were highly suspicious.
“She’s not just going to die,” Collins said.
Testimony will continue Wednesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.