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Retrial of Martinez woman accused in toddler's death started Tuesday

Posted: August 31, 2012 - 3:21pm  |  Updated: September 4, 2012 - 1:11pm
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Photo By Jim Blaylock
Lawanda Concettes Tripp turns toward her family as the first day of her retrial begins. Tripp, 41, is charged with murder in the death of 22-month-old Teaira Michele Hall, who was in Tripp’s care when she died on Nov. 15, 2009, from head injuries.

Twitter @ValerieRowell

The second trial of a Martinez woman charged in the death of a toddler she was baby-sitting started Tuesday.

Lawanda Concettes Tripp, 41, is charged with murder in the death of 22-month-old Teaira Michele Hall, who was in Tripp’s care when she died on Nov. 15, 2009, from head injuries.

Attorneys selected a jury before lunch and expect to begin opening statements when they return at 1:30 p.m. Testimony is expected to begin after opening statements.

The original trial began Aug. 6. Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis declared a mistrial on Aug. 11 after jurors announced they were deadlocked after more than 11 hours of deliberation.

"Time is of the essence in this case," Annis said.

Testimony in the first trial lasted four days and jury deliberations went all of the fifth day.

Authorities were called to Tripp’s Avery Landing home on Nov. 15, 2009, responding to a report that the child wasn’t breathing. At the time of the call, Teaira was in Tripp’s care.

Teaira died from multi-traumatic head injuries, according to Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins. She suffered injury and swelling to her brain and optical structures, Assistant District Attorney John Markwalter said.

During the initial trial, experts offered differing opinions as to when the fatal head injuries might have occurred.

At the first trial, Tripp testified and denied harming Teaira. Her attorney, Victor Hawk, said Teaira was left in Tripp’s care sick and with existing head injuries. Teaira banged her head during a tantrum, causing a seizure and ultimately, her death, he said.

Markwalter said that Teaira might have had previous injuries but that the fatal ones happened while in Tripp’s care and were likely inflicted by Tripp.

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