Aunt Testifies In Trial Over Baby's Death

Caregiver Says Older Children In Diapers After Leaving Parents

NBC6 News, Florida/October 20, 2005

Miami -- The woman who cares for the children of a couple accused in the death of their baby testified Thursday.

Mary Andressohn now cares for three boys and a girl, the children of her half-brother, Joseph, and his wife, Lamoy.

The couple is charged with manslaughter for the death of their 5-month-old daughter, Woyah, who authorities said died of malnutrition because the Andressohns insisted on a strict raw food diet. The defense claims the child died as a result of congenital medical problems.

Mary Andressohn said her nieces and nephews were thin and sickly when she began to care for them, and quickly gained weight during their first week in her care.

She testified that all four children, even the 6-year-old, wore diapers at first. She said the oldest were toilet-trained but that, "when they slept, they'd pee or pass feces in their sleep, so they were in diapers."

After two of the Andressohns' children testified Wednesday, defense lawyers hinted that Mary Andressohn planted negative notions in the children's minds about their parents.

"All I know is they killed my little baby sister by accident," the Andressohns' 9-year-old son testified Wednesday.

When asked if she had told the children this, she said she did not, NBC 6's Nick Bogert reported.

Joseph and Lamoy Andressohn's lawyers claimed that Mary Andressohn scared the children when they spoke of perhaps visiting their parents.

"My aunt told me if I went there, I'd go to jail," one of the boys had testified.

"I told them I could not take them to jail, because they did not allow children in jail," Mary Andressohn said.

Defense lawyers tried to paint Mary Andressohn as a single, childless woman hoping to inherit a family. Mary Andressohn denied that she was out to put Joseph and Lamoy Andressohn behind bars.

"If the parents get convicted, yes, I would like to keep the children in my home," Mary Andressohn said.

When asked if she would like to see the couple convicted, Mary Andressohn said, "No, I would not."

"I think that she wants those kids," defense lawyer Ellis Rubin said.

Mary Andressohn, who works as a federal immigration agent, said she was on the stand to tell the truth. She testified that Joseph's vegetarianism stemmed from his involvement in the black Hebrew Israelite religious sect, the first time the jurors have heard that mentioned, Bogert reported.

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