LIMA — The final witness in the state’s case against Vicki Shellabarger, charged with murder in the death of her infant daughter nearly three years ago, testified Thursday there was little doubt in his mind what caused 22-month-old Madilynn Shellabarber to die.
“The only thing that makes sense is that she was beaten to death,” said Dr. Randall Schliebert, director of child abuse programming for Mercy Health Network. “It’s ridiculous to believe she (Madilynn) caused these injuries herself.”
Schliebert told jurors the force required to have left the infant with more than 30 bruises and a torn membrane around her bowels was “significant.” He testified it was his professional opinion that Madilynn Shellabarger “was struck many times by force” in the hour or so before her death.
He admitted under cross-examination that some bruising and two broken ribs suffered by the toddler could have been inflicted when life-saving efforts were administered. “But there were a dozen bruises on her abdomen and a dozen bruises on her chest. I’ve never seen that level of bruising as a result of CPR,” the doctor said.
Schliebert testified that based on the type of bruising on her body that Madilynn was “clearly dead when EMTs arrived” at a Delphos apartment on the morning of April 29, 2018, in response to a 911 call regarding an unresponsive infant.
Dr. Cynthia Beisser, deputy coroner and forensic pathologist in the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, testified Wednesday that the infant died of blunt abdominal trauma.
Vicki Shellabarger 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 related to her daughter’s death.
Testimony wraps up
At the conclusion of Schliebert’s testimony on Thursday, the state of Ohio rested its case. Defense Attorney Steve Chamberlain indicated he had no witnesses to present and jurors were sent home for the day. Closing statements from attorneys will be held Friday morning and jurors could begin their deliberations before noon.
Morning testimony Thursday came from Charles Coleman, a former boyfriend of Vicki Shellabarger at whose apartment Madilynn Shellabarger was found by EMTs to be “lifeless, cold and pale,” according to medical statements.
While Vicki Shellabarger was heard by jurors on video Wednesday telling investigators she never treated her daughters harshly, Coleman testified that on the night prior to Madilynn’s death she had yelled at an older daughter “and said she’d beat her ass” for being unruly.
Coleman and an acquaintance, Terry Johnson — also known as Rock Star — were the only two adults other than Vicki Shellabarger who were present at the Delphos apartment in the hours before Madilynn’s death.
Shellabarger had told investigators she put Madilynn to bed around 6 p.m. and checked on her at approximately 8:30 p.m., although Coleman disputed those times. He testified that he left the apartment to go to a grocery store in Delphos at around 8:45 p.m. Video from the store confirmed his trip.
When he returned some 30 minutes later it was agreed that Shellabarger and her girls would not spend the night as was originally planned. Coleman said Shellabarger took a shower shortly before midnight.
“After she got out of the shower she got dressed and went into the bedroom to get Madilynn and I heard a scream. That’s when she found Maddie unresponsive and called 911,” Coleman said.
Asked by Chamberlain if he had ever accused Vicki Shellabarger of harming her daughter, Coleman answered, “I don’t see how she could have.”