LIVE UPDATES: Testimony underway in retrial of ex-Waco daycare owner charged in child’s overdose death
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Testimony in the retrial of former Waco home day care owner Marian Fraser began Wednesday morning after three grueling days of jury selection.
Fraser, 59, is charged with murder in Waco’s 19th State District Court in the March 2013 death of Clara Felton, who died from a toxic amount of diphenhydramine, or Benadryl, while in Fraser’s care at her Spoiled Rotten day care.
KWTX Reporter Tommy Witherspoon is tweeting live updates from the Fraser trial. Follow his feed below:
Prosecutors Tara Avants and Will Hix informed the court Tuesday that they intend to waive the second count of the indictment against Fraser that charged her with first-degree felony injury to a child.
The prosecutors and Fraser’s attorneys, Christi Jack, Lettie Martinez and Alex Thornton, finished jury selection about 6 p.m. Tuesday, selecting a 12-member panel and two alternates to hear the heart-wrenching case.
About 150 potential jurors filled out questionnaires on Friday, which asked them about their knowledge of the case and a bit of personal history. Judge David Hodges and the attorneys agreed to dismiss about 40 potential jurors based solely on the questionnaire responses, and another 20 or so were excused Monday after meeting privately with the judge and the parties.
Jury selection Tuesday began with 92 prospective jurors, but that number was cut to 77 before lunch break.
Fraser was convicted of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2015 after a trial in 19th State District Court. Her conviction was overturned on appeal after years of legal wrangling and she was awarded a new trial because of improper jury instructions related to Fraser’s culpable mental state on the felony murder charge.
Fraser, who has remained on bond while her case was under appeal, testified at her first trial she never gave Benadryl to children in her care without parental knowledge. The child’s parents, Scott and Loren Felton, testified they had not given Clara Benadryl nor had they given Fraser permission to do so. Clara was the granddaughter of McLennan County Judge Scott Felton.
Police alleged Fraser routinely gave Benadryl to the kids in her care to help maintain a rigid nap schedule. She was so insistent on nap time routines and child pick-up times that some parents privately called her the “Nap Nazi.”
Fraser’s attorneys filed a change of venue motion, alleging publicity surrounding Fraser’s first trial and the retrial would make it impossible to select an impartial jury. Hodges delayed ruling on the motion, saying he wanted to see how the jury selection process went before ruling on whether to move the trial from McLennan County.
Court officials expect the trial to last at least 10 days.
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