BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer email@example.com
Johnale Waterman was making sandwiches and packing for a picnic with her kids and a few other children and adults spending the day at her house.
A short while passed where no one could find 3-year-old James Lee Fanshier. The boy eventually came into Waterman's room holding his face and crying. James' mother's boyfriend, Dustin Wedel, said the boy fell on rocks in the backyard.
Waterman testified in court Tuesday -- the third day of Wedel's murder trial in the 2011 death of James -- that there was bruising on James' face, and a cut on his ear. She examined him further and saw red handprints on his back.
James had no visible injuries when he first arrived at her home that day, Waterman said.
She took pictures of the injuries. When she looked at those pictures again in court she began crying.
Wedel, 27, was the live-in boyfriend of Stormy Roberts, the woman who raised James after his biological parents took lesser roles in his life. Roberts had dated James' biological father, Evan Fanshier, for a time. The couple split shortly before Wedel moved in.
Waterman testified as a witness for the prosecution, but she also expressed uneasiness with how Fanshier disciplined his son.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Fred Gagliardini, Waterman said there were a couple of instances in which she saw Fanshier force his then-2-year-old son stand in the corner on the tips of his toes for as long as 15 minutes.
Waterman said she also saw Fanshier scream at the child as he spanked him on the buttocks. She said she thought Fanshier was too strict with James.
Gagliardini has said James accused others -- including his birth parents -- of hurting him on different occasions. But prosecutor Andrea Kohler said only Wedel had been with the child in the hours before his death when he suffered his most severe injuries. She has said Wedel was jealous of the attention Roberts gave James.
James died Jan. 23, 2011 as a result of multiple blunt force injuries, including broken ribs, a broken arm, injuries to his pancreas, bowels and genitals, and bruising over much of his body.
Gagliardini asked Waterman why she didn't call 911 or Child Protective Services if she considered Wedel such a threat. Why didn't she kicked him out of her home that day?
Waterman answered she called Roberts and told her about the injuries. Roberts left work and arrived at Waterman's home about 20 minutes later. Waterman said she didn't hear what was said between Roberts and Wedel.
Brock Wright, a cousin of James, later took the stand and said he'd sometimes see Wedel poke James in the ribs. The 11-year-old said he could tell the pokes hurt James because he'd cry out in pain.
Wright said he and James were friends. He cried testifying how he told Wedel to stop hurting James.
Wedel wasn't mean to other children, Wright said. Just James.