CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The second day of the trial for Chasity Wodzinski, who is accused of child abuse resulting in the 2020 death of 5-year-old Keaton Boggs, started with a ruling from Judge James A. Matish.
The ruling stated that the verdicts of Michelle Boggs and Peter Wodzinski could not be used against Chasity, citing that the trio wanted separate trials and that the co-defendants were not testifying.
After the ruling, the jury was ushered in, and opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense commenced.
In the prosecution’s opening statements, argued that Michelle Boggs was the legal custodian, but that Chasity and Peter Wodzinski were the daily caretakers of Keaton. Chasity Wodzinski had canceled multiple doctor’s appointments for Keaton, citing several different excuses. Because of her behavior, it would be believed that she knew about the abuse to Keaton.
For the defense’s opening statements, they argued that Chasity Wodzinski did not carry out the fatal injuries to Keaton, as she was not home at the time. The defense said that two questions needed to be answered: did Chasity Wodzinski do it? and did she know about it? Since she was away from home, neither would be possible, they said.
After opening statements, witnesses were called to testify.
The first two witnesses called were family friends of Boggs. The first witness said that Boggs had lived with her on four separate occasions, ranging from 2016 to July 2019, shortly after Boggs’ son and Keaton’s father, Christopher, passed away. Boggs then moved in with the second witness, which is where she resided until the time of Boggs’ arrest.
The third witness was Molly Barberio, a therapist who Keaton was referred to for “bizarre”, outbursts, and behavior issues. In her testimony, she said that she met Keaton once for around ten minutes on Feb. 5, 2020, and nothing of significance was noted.
The next therapy appointment for Keaton was set for Feb. 19, 2020. Chasity Wodzinski called and said they were having car problems, so they would not be coming to the appointment. On March 4, 2020, the appointment was canceled due to Boggs being in the hospital. On March 17, 2020, Keaton and his family did not show up for the appointment and did not call ahead of time. Barberio said she did not suspect abuse, so she did not report the family as her duty as a mandatory reporter.
The fourth witness was Michael Camden, a retired special investigator for the West Virginia State Police (WVSP). Camden testified that he was called to WVU Medicine Ruby Memorial Hospital on March 18, 2020, around 10:00 p.m. to help the WVSP with an interview involving Chasity Wodzinski and Boggs after Keaton was flown to the hospital with severe injuries.
In that interview, Chasity Wodzinski is heard describing her day to the investigators.
She said that Keaton hadn’t felt good the day before, but was doing better the next day. He used the bathroom early in the morning and woke up around 10:00 a.m. Chasity Wodzinski said that she ran errands, and came home to Keaton unable to wake up. She drove and Boggs rode Keaton to WVU Medicine United Hospital Center, where he was eventually flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Peter Wodzinski told Chasity Wodzinski that he had no explanation as to why Keaton was unresponsive, despite being home with the child all day.
Chasity Wodzinski also describes in the interview that Keaton was “clumsy”, and the dog knocked him down the stairs. She also said that Keaton “took a steak knife to his penis”, causing a four-centimeter laceration. She also claimed that Keaton was hitting himself with a toy hammer in the eye, and then woke up with two black eyes.
The next day, on March 19, 2020, Chasity Wodzinski went to the WVSP Bridgeport detachment to change her statements. She said that Boggs went with her to run errands and was not at home with Peter Wodzinski.
“I don’t know what happened to that little boy,” Chasity Wodzinski said in the interview.
Chasity Wodzinski then said that she lied to investigators the night before because Boggs asked her to, citing Boggs would get in trouble since she is Keaton’s custodian, and she didn’t want to lose custody.
In the cross-examination of Camden, the defense asked why they did not arrest Chasity Wodzinski for lying to investigators. Camden said they had no reason to do that without interviewing others.
The fifth witness was Dr. Casey McCluskey, a pediatric critical care doctor for WVU Medicine Children’s. Dr. McCluskey was cleared as an expert for pediatric critical care by the court.
Dr. McCluskey works in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and treated Keaton upon his arrival at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
In her testimony, the doctor described Keaton’s injuries, citing he was not moving without the use of sedatives. Keaton also had two black eyes and bruises all over his head, which Dr. McCluskey said were in “multiple stages of healing”, inferring they were not all inflicted at the same time.
Keaton also had bruises on his legs, hips, sides of his body and top of his feet.
Dr. McCluskey said she immediately had concerns about child abuse and contacted forensic nursing.
Over the course of around 36 hours, Keaton’s brain herniated, or swelled and smashed to the bottom of his skull. After two brain-dead exams, he was declared dead by Dr. McCluskey on March 20, 2020. She cited “non-accidental trauma resulting in brain death” in her form of death.
Dr. McCluskey, who is a published author of children and self-harm, said that in her opinion, the injuries to Keaton were not a result of self-infliction.
During the cross-examination, the defense asked Dr. McCluskey if the bruises found on Keaton’s feet, legs, shins and arms were his cause of death. Dr. McCluskey said no. When asked about the injuries to the head, Dr. McCluskey deferred to the medical examiner.
The trial will continue on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.