Emotions got the best of family in the courtroom as the 14-year-old nephew of Tammy and Kevin Goforth gave evidence at their trial on Tuesday.
The Regina couple is facing charges of second degree murder in the death of a four-year-old girl in their care and causing bodily harm to a two-year-old girl in 2012.
Keegan Berg testified about a time when he said he visited his aunt and uncle, and his older cousins over two weekends during the summer of 2011.
Berg told the court, during one of those weekends he found poop in a corner of the basement and told his aunt.
He then said the girl’s hands were taped to the wall in the basement near the poop.
As he described the scene, there were audible gasps and sobs from the family at the back of the courtroom.
As he was questioned by the Crown, Berg described some of what the girls were wearing, and said they played with Barbies. He also said the four-year-old and two-year-old girls were locked in their room for the whole weekend he was there – with a rope tied from the room’s door handle to the handle of a nearby closet.
Berg also said he never saw the girls eat.
During the cross-examination, the defence asked Berg if the girls were locked in their room the whole time he was there, then how he could have seen them. But Berg maintained that he saw what he had told the court.
The two defence lawyers also asked Berg about his interview with police, asking him whether his mother had told him what to say, whether she had told him that the Goforths had hurt the girls.
Berg’s testimony ended the day, but tears from the family continued even after court was adjourned.
Earlier in the day an RCMP forensic DNA analyst gave evidence. Peter McLaren tested eight pieces of evidence collected from the Goforth home.
Blood and the hair of the four-year-old were found on: pyjama pants, cargo strapping, pieces of tape, shrink wrap, pieces of cardboard, and a strip of fabric.
DNA evidence of the two-year-old was also found on cardboard.
There was also DNA evidence of Tammy and Kevin Goforth on various items alongside the girls’ DNA.
In the afternoon, the pediatrician who treated the two-year-old at the General Hospital in August 2012 took the stand.
Dr. Shauna Flavelle testified to the girl being malnourished, dehydrated, and thin, “she looked wasted to me”.
Including her observations, and tests that were done, Flavelle described the girl’s malnutrition as severe, and said it would take a long period of time for it to get to that point.
While in the hospital, the doctor describes the girl as eating “voraciously, it was hard to keep her at half-portions”.
Flavelle said what was most telling to her was the two-year-old’s recovery, as she gained six or seven pounds in the few months after she was first admitted to the hospital, and was then at a more healthy body weight.
She also had significant excess body hair which Flavelle had seen before in patients with anorexia, explaining “it is the body’s way of insulating itself”. This contributed to Flavelle’s conclusion that the malnutrition would have taken time to develop because she said it would have taken a long time to grow the excess hair.
Flavelle told the court the girl had significant skin infections, including open sores, abrasion, and bruises, along with pneumonia, and a urinary tract infection.
Flavelle said in her experience, there was no disease or illness, including fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) that could explain the severe malnutrition.
Under cross-examination, Flavelle said it is possible pneumonia could cause of a loss of appetite, and a urinary-tract infection could cause diarrhea which could speed up malnutrition.
During questioning from the defence, it was established to the court that Flavelle had no reference point for the two-year-old’s weight or hair growth before she was in the hospital.
She was asked “if the patient had a history of vomiting after eating, would that change her opinion”. Flavelle answered, “I would consider it, but it wouldn’t explain the constellation of findings”.
The trial continues on Wednesday.
News Talk Radio’s ongoing coverage of the trial
Goforth Trial Day 1: Tensions run high in courtroom for murder trial of Tammy and Kevin Goforth
Goforth Trial Day 2: Forensic officers testify about condition of home
Goforth Trial Day 4: ‘Skinny with bruises’: first responders testify about finding girls at Goforth trial
Goforth Trial Day 5: Goforth murder trial hears doctor describe efforts to save 4-year-old girl
Goforth Trial Day 6: Photos of girls’ wounds shown at Goforth trial