In District Judge Emmit Tayloe’s courtroom, First Assistant District Attorney Kyle Cabelka was completing the State’s case against Cierra Kyles, 31, who is accused of felony counts of child abuse by injury and enabling child abuse. She made her first appearance on the charges in Comanche County District Court in July 2019. She faces up to life in prison if convicted of either count.
Kyles is accused of serially abusing her then 5-year-old son. The boy was taken into Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ custody in October 2018 after an arrest warrant was issued for the mother.
In Wednesday’s cross-examination, it appears the tactics hinge on a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument.
During Cabelka’s questioning of the boy’s foster mother for 1½-years, Sarah Wallace, the prosecution argued the boy has suffered emotional and physical trauma that has caused him to act out.
Wallace testified that when the boy arrived at her home in December 2018, he was a timid boy, “but really sweet, very sweet, quiet.” Within two weeks, he began to display aggressive behaviors as he became comfortable with the family, she said.
“He didn’t really respond to transitioning easily,” she said.
The boy would act out in ways where he would pull his hair, hit his head against the wall and punch his legs, Wallace said, especially when he didn’t get his way. She said those outbursts decreased over the time he was with them. He also opened up about his scars.
“He had scars up and down both arms and a pretty visible one under his eye,” she said.
After two weeks in the home, Wallace said the boy told her the scar under his eye came from his head slamming into the side of a bathtub.
Cabelka asked if he said who did this to him.
“He said his mother did it,” the foster mother said.
Wallace testified the boy said his mother also would whip him with a phone charger cord while in the car and that’s how his arms became scarred.
“That’s why, he said, he was put into the tub,” she said, “to make his body feel better.”
Wallace said the boy told her that he was taught by Kyles to say he’d hit a tree to cause the injuries, “so he wouldn’t be taken away.”
Kyles is accused of causing the boy to suffer from “two black eyes, a laceration under his right eye, open wounds to his left arm, numerous bruises throughout multiple planes of his body and burn marks to his back,” according to the probable cause affidavit.
The boy told DHS case workers and his first foster mother about his mother injuring him while being whipped when answering wrong while quizzed on educational topics.
During her testimony, Wallace said the boy and an infant child who was also in her care were removed in June. That’s when the boy told his foster care worker, “he didn’t feel safe.” Visibly upset while testifying, she said she and her husband were cleared of wrongdoing and that the allegation was “unfounded” following an investigation.
The boy also told investigators that he didn’t want to leave after the case worker told him he would have to leave the Wallace home. Wallace said it caused them to take a break from fostering children.
Kyles’ counsel, Teresa Williams from Oklahoma Indigent Services, cross-examined Wallace. She asked the foster mother in what ways the boy would act out. Wallace said there were incidents of him fighting while in kindergarten.
There was also an incident the day before Valentine’s Day in 2019, shortly after he’d come to stay in the home. Wallace said she was called to the school to speak with the principal and the boy’s teacher. It began when a little girl in his class said she wouldn’t be bringing him a card the next day.
“That’s when he said, ‘Well, that’s OK, I’ll kill you dead,’ and tried to stab her with a pencil,” she said.
Williams inferred through her questioning that the boy was capable of both, injuring himself and of making false allegations. She cited the incident where the boy was removed from the Wallace home.
Wallace said that she didn’t have words to describe the pain of waking up that morning and having two children in her care and by night, both were gone. Still, she didn’t blame the boy.
“I feel like a part of my world was ripped from me,” she said. “But I’m not angry at him, he’s still a child.”
Kyles defense closed out Wednesday’s court session. Closing arguments and jury deliberations are expected to begin today.
Two other trials set to begin this week have been continued until the January 2021 jury docket.
Patrick Ray Alexander, 42, was scheduled to be tried in District Judge Gerald Neuwirth’s courtroom for charges of felony counts of first-degree robbery and kidnapping.
The trial of Jeffrey Leonard Bell for a felony count of aggravated assault and battery was scheduled to begin today in Tayloe’s courtroom. It, too, has been continued until the next jury docket.
Written by Scott Rains: firstname.lastname@example.org.