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Published: Monday, 2/11/2008

Mistrial declared in Dayton microwave baby case


DAYTON A judge declared a mistrial Monday in the case of woman accused of killing her month-old baby by burning her in a microwave, finding that new defense witnesses bolster her innocence claim.

Judge John Kessler made the decision after hearing testimony privately from a juvenile who said he was at the apartment complex of defendant China Arnold on the August 2005 night her infant died. The judge did not give details about the juvenile s testimony.

The judge also heard testimony from the juvenile s father and was presented with affidavits from an adult witness who had been in contact with a second juvenile in reference to the first juvenile s statements.

Kessler said prosecutors asked him to reject the evidence, questioning its truthfulness. But the judge said the evidence is new and the defense hasn t had a chance to investigate it.

Ordering the trial to move forward without considering the evidence would be instant grounds for reversal of any conviction, Kessler said. And he said allowing the evidence during the final stages of the trial would prevent prosecutors and defense attorneys for a full opportunity to investigate it and affect how Arnold chose to confront other witnesses.

Kessler discharged the jury and ordered the case placed back on the court docket for further scheduling.

Arnold showed little emotion when the judge announced his decision, but looked sad as she walked out of the courtroom and was taken back to the jail. Family members who were in the courtroom had no audible reaction, but they hugged each other in the hallway as they were leaving.

Kessler continued a gag order in the case, so neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys would comment.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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