Friday, March 21, 2008

Dad says he felt 'weird sensation' before microwaving baby

GALVESTON — Joshua Royce Mauldin felt a "weird sensation" and lost control of his actions before placing his 2-month-old daughter in a microwave oven, according to a video of his statement to police shown during his trial today.

"I felt a weird sensation, a crazy sensation," Mauldin, 20, of Warren, Ark., said in the video of his interview with Galveston police Detective Holly Johnson.

At the direction of attorneys during her testimony, Johnson read from psychological evaluations done when Mauldin was a teenager in which he reports hearing voices that threaten to kill him if he doesn't do what they want.

In the video shown to the jury on the fourth day of his trial on a charge of injury to a child, Mauldin said he felt like "a shell and a hot fire inside, right in your stomach. At that point I had no control over my body.

"I could see what was going on, but I couldn't do anything about it."

Mauldin described how he tossed his daughter from one bed to another in a motel room on Seawall Boulevard after checking in with his family shortly after midnight on May 10 last year.

He told Johnson that after his wife, Eva, left the room, he punched his daughter in the groin, slapping his fist into his palm to show how much force he used. He then put Anna Murphy into the motel room safe, then the refrigerator before placing her in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Mauldin said he finally came to his senses and realized what he was doing. "When I got control over my body, I freaked out," he told Johnson. "I wouldn't do that."

He then says that most people would think he is crazy.

"Do you think you're crazy?" Johnson asks. Mauldin replies, "No."

Later in the video, Mauldin uses a Teddy bear to re-create the actions leading to Anna being placed in the microwave oven. He said he gently folded her legs to get her in the oven and that she was facing him.

Mauldin later begins sobbing when Johnson hands him photos of Anna's injuries. He said he first told officials that Anna was sunburned during the drive from Arkansas, then concocted a story about spilling hot water on her while making coffee after being told that the burns could not have been caused by the sun.

He said he kept the truth from his wife for several days.

He also tells Johnson that he brought his wife, daughter, mother and younger brother to Galveston because he was called by the Lord to be a preacher.

"He told me to come here," Mauldin says. God had also shown him "signs," he said.

Mauldin also said Galveston had more churches than Warren, giving him a better chance of getting a job as an assistant pastor.

After the video was shown, attorneys asked Johnson to read from Mauldin's psychological records. One of the records shows that his wife and mother tried to have him involuntarily committed less than a month before he took his family to Galveston.

Assistant District Attorney Xochitl Vandiver said the report indicated his wife and mother wanted Mauldin committed because he had taken up with another woman.

Johnson read from several reports in which Mauldin complains about voices that speak to him all day long and threaten to kill him if he fails to carry out their wishes. One evaluation says that he can control the voices but will eventually lose control.

The reports, done by different doctors and clinics over several years, are sometimes contradictory in their evaluations. Another report says he lied about hearing voices as an excuse to quit a football team.

Mauldin's attorney, Sam Cammack III, has tried to cast doubt on whether Anna was burned in the microwave. A state Department of Public Safety lab technician testified that Anna's DNA was found in 10 places in the microwave oven. Her DNA was not found in the safe or refrigerator.

The prosecution completed its case against Mauldin after the DNA testimony. The defense began its case.

Anna received second- and third-degree burns to the left side of her face, left shoulder and left hand and forearm. She underwent several skin grafts and is living with relatives in Brazos County.

Mauldin has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to injury of a child, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

If found not guilty by reason of insanity, state District Judge Susan Criss could order him confined to a mental institution for life.


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