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Old 03-28-2006, 07:26 PM   #1
Blackbear
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Child murdered-- warning advised before reading

This is a very hard article to swallow. It is shocking and horrible and hard to fathom that anyone could do this to a child. I warn that this will depress and anger you so know this before reading it and if you don't want to feel either of these emotions at this time, then just turn back now.

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This story came from: http://www.dailyranger.com/



A somber, tearful mood prevailed in the Hot Springs County Courthouse Friday morning when opening arguments and witness testimony began in the murder trial of Andrew John Yellowbear Jr. Yellowbear, an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, is accused of abusing to death his 22-month-old daughter, Marcela Hope Blackburn in Riverton.

Yellowbear murder trial starts


By Alicia Giuffrida
Staff Writer
A somber, tearful mood prevailed in the Hot Springs County Courthouse Friday morning when opening arguments and witness testimony began in the murder trial of Andrew John Yellowbear Jr.
Yellowbear, an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, is accused of abusing to death his 22-month-old daughter, Marcela Hope Blackburn in Riverton.
He faces the death penalty if convicted of the July 2, 2004, death termed by an emergency room physician “the most severe case of child abuse I have ever witnessed.”
The child’s mother, Macalia Blackburn, has pleaded guilty as an accessory to the crime.
The trial was moved from Fremont County after a successful motion by Yellowbear for a change of venue.
Fremont County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Gist was first to address the all-white jury, selected just an hour before opening statements began.
The courtroom lights were dimmed, and a projection screen filled the room with an image of happy, healthy Marcela Hope Black-burn, eating an ice-cream cone in a photo taken just two months before her death.
“This is how Marcela looked in the early weeks of May 2004, when she was living with her foster parents,” Gist said.
Tears in the jury
The image changed, and the mood shifted all at once. A close-up photo of the dead child’s face now assaulted the jurors: eyes and cheeks blackened with bruises, open red sores all over her face and around her mouth.
“This case is solely and exclusively about Marcela Hope Yellowbear, who had the grave misfortune to have her life and well-being placed into the hands of her parents,” said Gist.
Jurors began wiping tears from their eyes.
From an early age, Marcela was in custody of her great-grandmother, Ruby Blackburn, who turned care of the child over to Macalia Blackburn’s cousin, Littlehawk Blackburn, and his wife Leah Lonebear.
Littlehawk Blackburn and Lonebear took care of Marcela for over a year, but when Littlehawk decided to move to be with family in Colorado, Ruby Blackburn returned the child to Macalia Blackburn and Andrew Yellowbear. When Littlehawk Blackburn came back to town and tried to see the girl he considered his daughter, the door was slammed in his face.
A month later, the child was brought into the emergency room with an astounding number of injuries, no longer breathing.
Gist and defense attorney Vaughn Neubauer told this same story in their opening arguments, and Littlehawk Blackburn confirmed it in witness testimony a few minutes later.
Defense implicates mother
However, when Gist described the details of Marcela’s abuse, he implicated Yellowbear, and when Neubauer spoke, he sounded as though he were a prosecutor in the imaginary case of State of Wyoming vs. Macalia Blackburn.
“This is a case about a mother who killed her daughter,” Neubauer said.
Gist said specifically that the cause of death determined in the child’s autopsy was “complications of repetitive, abusive blunt-force injuries.” Yellowbear, seated in the court in a button-down shirt and tie, looked at each picture of his dead child as Gist detailed her injuries: bruises and sores all over her body, a hole in the base of her chin, black eyes, a broken arm, third-degree burns to her right hand, and deep sores in her buttocks.
Though the child died after Macalia Blackburn suspended her from a closet rod by her suspenders, Gist said, “There was nothing around her neck. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy found no evidence suggesting Marcela’s suspension in the closet was the reason she died.”
Neubauer disagreed, echoing defense arguments presented at Yellowbear’s preliminary hearing.
“Little Marcela asphyxiated to death in the closet,” he said, telling jurors that the pressure of suspender straps on either side of her neck and the position of her head caused her to suffocate.
Yellowbear was not home when Blackburn suspended her in the closet.
Yellowbear faces four charges: two that accuse him of directly perpetrating the abuse, and two that accuse him of acting as an accessory to Macalia Blackburn’s abuse of Marcela. Jurors have a choice between deciding Yellowbear committed the abuse, finding him guilty because he aided and abetted Blackburn in committing the abuse, or finding him not guilty of either.
First witnesses
Littlehawk Blackburn was first witness to take the stand, confirming the narrative of Marcela’s early life related by attorneys in opening statements.
He testified that when he left for Colorado, he gave Ruby Blackburn explicit instructions not to return Marcela to Macalia Blackburn because she was living with Yellowbear again.
“Either one by themselves was fine, but not together,” he said.
Attorneys did not ask him to explain what he meant by that statement, nor why he had concerns.
Blackburn stated that when Marcela was returned to her parents against his wishes at the end of May, she was in good health with no physical injuries.
Also testifying Friday was former Riverton Memorial Hospital emergency room nurse Robin Walker, who with noticeable emotional difficulty went through a series of photos she had helped police take at the hospital the night Marcela died.
Arrival at hospital
Walker recalled that when Macalia Blackburn brought Marcela to the hospital and nurse Kathy Swan carried her into the emergency room, “I immediately knew the baby had been beaten. You could just see it in her face.”
She described in further detail the injuries she had found, including unusual bumps and soft spots on the baby’s head, many sores and bruises of various ages, and areas that looked and smelled “rotten.” She also testified that bandages on Marcela’s right hand were not clean and did not seem to have been placed by medical professionals.
One of the documents introduced for exhibit by prosecutors was an anatomical chart on which Walker had written down all of the injuries she saw on Marcela.
Around a blank anatomical figure of a child were many marks and lines leading to corresponding descriptions of the injuries. Also on the page was an anatomical figure of an adult, also with markings.
When Gist asked her why there were markings on the adult, she paused to collect her emotions. Through tears, she choked out: “Because I ran out of room on the baby’s.”
ER physician
Physician Bradley North, who was on duty at Riverton Memorial the night Marcela died, testified over defense counsel’s overruled objections, “This is the most severe case of child abuse I have ever witnessed.”
He described resuscitative efforts made in the hospital, and some of the signs that led he and physician Thomas Rangitsch to determine she could not be saved, including unusually dry eye membranes and pupils that did not respond to light.
He also testified that an ace bandage on her arm was not the type of bandage a doctor would have used to treat her broken upper arm, and that her right fingers appeared to have immersion burns under their bandages: burns possibly caused by dipping her hand in hot liquid.
Defense attorney Diane Lozano asked both Walker and North about infantigo, a superficial skin infection that she suggested might account for the sores on Marcela’s face.
North said that in his opinion, the marks around her lips could have been a severe case of infantigo, but other sores on her face were not consistent with the infection.
Witness testimony continues Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the Hot Springs County Courthouse.

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Severe abuse perpetrated over the course of two months that culminated in the death of Marcela Hope Yellowbear began with the 22-month-old’s father forcing her to stand for hours on end in front of a television set in a cramped Riverton apartment. His motive?


‘I can’t wait until you die’
Searing testimony heard Monday at Yellowbear trial


By Walter Cook
Staff Writer
THERMOPOLIS — Severe abuse perpetrated over the course of two months that culminated in the death of Marcela Hope Yellowbear began with the 22-month-old’s father forcing her to stand for hours on end in front of a television set in a cramped Riverton apartment.

His motive?
He didn’t believe the child was his.
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