Jury selection begins in Ohio for mother accused of microwaving month-old baby

Tuesday, January 29, 2008
China Arnold sat in a Montgomery County courtroom Monday during a break in jury selection in Dayton, Ohio. Arnold is accused of microwaving her baby to death. Police believe China Arnold killed her 1-month-old daughter in 2005. Coroner's officials said the baby suffered high-heat internal injuries but no external burns. (RON ALVEY ~ Dayton Daily News)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a woman accused of killing her 1-month-old daughter by burning the child in a microwave oven.

If convicted of aggravated murder, China Arnold, 27, could face the death penalty.

Police investigators believe Arnold killed 1-month-old Paris Talley by putting her in a microwave at her Dayton home in 2005. Coroner's officials said the baby suffered high-heat internal injuries and had no external burns. They have ruled out scalding water, open flame or other possible causes of death that could have damaged the skin.

Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion has said Arnold had nothing to do with her daughter's death and was stunned when investigators told her that a microwave might have been involved. Arnold took the baby to the hospital after finding her unconscious and does not know how she died, Rion said.

Visiting Judge John Kessler began questioning potential jurors Monday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, asking them if they would be able to serve at a trial that may last three weeks.

In this Jan. 23, 2007 file photo, China Arnold appeared in common pleas court in Dayton, Ohio. Arnold, 26, has been charged in the death of her 1-month-old daughter who authorities say was killed by being placed in a microwave. Jury selection for China Arnold was scheduled to begin Monday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. The 27-year-old Arnold has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder. If convicted, she could face the death penalty. (AP Photo/Al Behrman/file) (AL BEHRMAN ~ Associated Press, file)

During a pretrial hearing in July, police Detective Michael Galbraith said Arnold told him she arrived home in the early morning hours after drinking, fell asleep and was awakened at 2:30 a.m. by the baby's crying.

She said she warmed a bottle in the microwave oven, tried to give it to the baby, changed the child's diaper and then fell asleep on the couch with the baby on her chest.

Arnold said she and her children were the only ones in the apartment until her boyfriend arrived several hours later and noticed something was wrong with the baby.

Galbraith said Arnold told him: "If I hadn't gotten so drunk, I guess my baby wouldn't have died."

When cross-examined by Rion, Galbraith acknowledged that Arnold told him she did not know how the baby suffered the burns and that she had nothing to do with it that she could recall.

Earlier this month, defense witness Robert Belloto, a staff pharmacist at Good Samaritan Hospital, testified he does not believe it would have been possible for Arnold to place the baby in the microwave because the woman was so intoxicated.

Belloto said Arnold told him she had consumed about 40 percent of a pint of high-proof rum in 90 minutes. But he acknowledged that he had no other corroboration for her claim.

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