If Camden Fry's death was a "tragic accident," why didn't Kimberly Fry call for help after her daughter became unresponsive? Why did she later say she expected to go to jail? Why did she continue to maintain pressure on the 8-year-old girl's chest, neck and/or mouth for more than four minutes after she passed out?
Prosecutor Stephen Regine asked the jury to consider those questions as he delivered his closing argument Wednesday afternoon, particularly emphasizing the passage of time between Camden's loss of consciousness and death. Pathologists for both the prosecution and defense testified that continuous pressure must have been applied for four to six minutes after loss of consciousness for death to occur.
"What matters in this case is time," Regine told the jury. "Not the time the defendant took walks in New Hampshire with her daughter or helped her ride her bike. The time both doctors testified about. The four to six minutes when she is literally taking the oxygen out of her body, squeezing the life out of her."
Regine displayed a stopwatch on a screen next to a picture of Camden Fry's face, asking the jurors to think of her while the stopwatch ticked off five full minutes. "This is the time to consider," he said after the time elapsed in silence.
After, Regine described Kimberly Fry climbing atop her daughter, sitting on her chest and placing her hands around the girl's neck and over her face. The defense has said Kimberly Fry was not trying to kill her daughter, but merely attempting to restrain her from a violent temper tantrum that included screaming, hitting, kicking and biting. Dr. Elizabeth Laposata, former chief medical examiner of Rhode Island, testified for the defense the totality of Camden's injuries is consistent with a restraint death, countering former medical examiner William Cox's testimony that manual strangulation was the cause. It was a tragic, accidental, unintentional accident, defense attorney Sarah Wright contends. Regine, however, said Kimberly Fry had other motives.
"We know from all the testimony that Camden is no longer speaking; she was no longer screaming," Regine said, referring to the period after the girl lost consciousness. "But she still kept her own hands on the body, strangling her. That four to six minutes is incredible."
Regine told the jury that Camden Fry, while a lovable, happy little girl, also had some problems. Testimony revealed she had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, had difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, and sometimes threw temper tantrums. While they were significant, they are problems families deal with every day, Regine said. "Camden had every right to have one of those tantrums; that's not her fault," Regine said. "But (Kim) didn't like it sometimes. She couldn't take it sometimes. Why didn't she walk away?"
Earlier Wednesday, Wright told the jury Kimberly Fry didn't know she was hurting her daughter and had no idea the girl was dead when she tucked her into bed, placed a stuffed elephant in her arms and turned on her nightlight before leaving the room and taking a cocktail of prescription drugs in a failed suicide attempt. Regine countered that there's no way she didn't know what she was doing.
"If you are within inches of her face, you know you are hurting her as she is gagging and gurgling and choking," Regine said. "If she did nothing wrong, why not go for help? No, she walks out and tries to kill herself. It wasn't an accident. It wasn't unintentional. She acted with malice. She acted with a hardness of the heart, with cruelty or wickedness of disposition, with extreme indifference to the sanctity of Camden's life. That is murder in the second degree."
Regine told the jury Kimberly Fry blamed her daughter for her problems, couldn't take the outbursts, purposely put her hands over Camden's mouth and around her neck until the girl was dead, then told employees at South County Hospital later that night that she deserved to go to jail.
Regine asked the jurors to go through five minutes of silence again, while picturing Camden's face. "I trust that all of you will have the courage to stand up to the big words of accidental and unintentional," Regine told the jurors. "You will stand up here and have the courage to say murder. That's what happened here."
Six men and six women were selected at random draw to decide Kimberly Fry's fate. They began deliberations Wednesday afternoon and are expected back in Washington County Superior Court Thursday morning to continue their discussion. Judge William Carnes Jr. instructed the jurors to reach a unanimous decision on murder in the second degree. If they unanimously agree Fry is not guilty of murder, they may then consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.