Tammy Goforth took the stand in her own defence Friday describing what life was like in her home when the two girls were in her care.
Goforth and her husband Kevin are on trial for the murder of a four-year-old and injuring a two-year-old.
Wearing a grey cardigan, pinned up and often looking directly at the jury, Goforth gave a loud, firm and emphatic “no” to the question of did she intentionally hurt the girls.
Goforth said Kevin wasn’t sure they should take the girls from social services, but she wanted to.
They were provided no medical records or a health card. She didn’t take them to a doctor or dentist because she would have no coverage. Goforth testified the four-year-old’s teeth look “neglected”.
So when the two-year-old cut her face on the nightstand in November 2011, they received a bill for the stitches the girl received at the Pasqua Hospital. Goforth testified the girl showed no emotion nor did she cry, even when she was receiving the stitches.
In front of the packed courtroom, Goforth said she bought a Rubbermaid dresser and filled it with diapers, creams, toys and other items. But she had to take the dolls away from the girls because they “ripping off the heads and arms”.
She describes the four-year-old as shy, who didn’t communicate well, and the two-year-old as being quiet.
“She took a while to get used to us,” Goforth said, adding she was “scared of the outdoors” to the point that visits to the park or museum became stressful.
The jury was shown a book of photographs as evidence of life in the Goforth home. Pictures showed the family around the Christmas tree, and a fake birthday party for the girls with a cake – fake because the Goforths weren’t clear of when the girls were born.
Goforth testified she became “a light sleeper and often slept on the couch” because the girls would wander at night. The girls would have the occassional fight, Goforth said, mainly over toys.
Goforth told the court she discplined the girls by seperating them.
“One would go upstairs with the gate up, the other downstairs on the couch.”
Neither girl was put in daycare because the Goforths didn’t have the funding “and that takes money”.
When shown photographic evidence of the girls’ injuries, Goforth couldn’t explain every bruise or skin abrasion documented. She said the girls would wear high-tops without socks, leading to scrapes on their ankles. Goforth also said she taped mittens to the girls’ wrists to prevent them from scratching themselves.
She assumed the tape was bothering them, because “they would be itching and rubbing it a lot”.
Describing the night the girls went to hospital, July 31, 2012, Goforth became near hysterical.
She is a severe anemic so remembers the two weeks prior to “the incident” – as she called it – was very tiring.
Both girls were showing flu-like symptoms. They were “cranky, tired, wouldn’t eat a lot”. She was on the couch laying down and the girls in their room. She fell asleep in the early evening and woke with a start later in the night. She ran upstairs to check on the girls and found the four-year-old not breathing. She began screaming, “something’s wrong, something’s wrong”, wrapped the child up and rushed with Kevin to the hospital.
Gofroth describes the girl as opening and closing her mouth; she looked like she was trying to breathe but couldn’t.
When asked by her lawyers whether she slapped or hit the girl, Goforth answered no. When asked whether she withheld food or prevented them from eating, she again replied no.
When asked whether she taped them to the wall, restrained them or bound them up, Goforth answered no.
The trial continues.
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 in Trial of Tammy and Kevin Goforth
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
Goforth Trial Day 7: Goforth trial hears girls were taped to wall, locked in bedroom
Goforth Trial Day 8: Evidence of being bound: Forensic pathologist testifies at Goforth murder trial
Goforth Trial Day 9: Defence witnesses describe girls’ care in Tammy and Kevin Goforth’s home