Mother testifies in baby-shaking trial

Published: Apr. 25, 2014 at 8:55 PM CDT|Updated: May. 23, 2014 at 8:34 PM CDT
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Investigators said Gary Wilbourn violently shook his 4-month-old daughter at their Lacey's...
Investigators said Gary Wilbourn violently shook his 4-month-old daughter at their Lacey's Spring home.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - A key murder trial witness in Decatur was subpoenaed. The development came on the fourth day of testimony in Gary Wilbourn's capital murder trial. The prosecution said Doctor Emily Ward was served a subpoena through a Mississippi court.

Doctor Ward's preliminary autopsy results indicated Amy Wilbourn's death was a homicide, but her final report listed the cause of death as undetermined. The girl was 4-months-old, and her father, Gary Wilbourn, was charged with her murder. Investigators said he violently shook his daughter at their Lacey's Spring home. A second opinion later determined it to be a homicide.

The girl's mother, Brenda Keller, took the stand for the prosecution for several hours on Friday morning. She testified about her drug use before and after Amy's death. She confessed to using crack cocaine and marijuana while pregnant, and admitted using drugs during other pregnancies.

She also admitted to writing love letters to Gary Wilbourn while he was behind bars, letters that said she knew he had not hurt their daughter. Keller testified she wrote the letters so she could maintain a relationship with Wilbourn's parents, because they have custody of the couple's two children.

Keller wrote the letters to Wilbourn through early August of 2013. Keller, who is married to another man, wrote that she loved Wilbourn, that she knew he did not hurt their daughter, and that she wanted their family back together. She testified she was misleading him so that she wouldn't have issues seeing her kids. Keller has unsupervised visitation rights.

When Wilbourn's defense attorney asked if she thought he would hurt Amy, she said no. She replied, "I don't think he would intentionally hurt one of his kids, but I didn't see what happened to Amy."

The defense attorney followed up by saying Keller did not know if Wilbourn had hurt the child.

"I don't know if he did, but somebody had to," she said.

Shortly after Amy Wilbourn died, Keller told Morgan County Investigators that Gary Wilbourn had acted aggressively two months before when the child was crying, that he went into her room, and the small camper shook, but she never saw what he did or didn't do.

The defense pointed out that Wilbourn weighed 300 pounds at the time, and could have shaken the camper just by walking, and Keller said she never saw him abuse any children. The trial will resume Monday morning.

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