First responders describe finding wounded toddler in Bay capital murder trial

Oren Lewis
Oren Lewis

Prosecutors began presenting their case Wednesday in the capital murder trial of Oren Lewis, who is accused of fatally abusing his toddler daughter in 2013.

Lewis, now 34, faces a single count of capital murder. Prosecutors said he severely abused his 23-month-old daughter, Ma’Leah Grace Bush, on Aug. 25, 2013. The toddler died of her injuries two days later at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.

After opening arguments, jurors heard a recording of the 911 call and testimony from a paramedic and a Waveland police officer, who were the first to respond to Lewis’ home on a report of a child injured from a fall.

They both testified seeing a large hematoma — the medical term for a bruise — on the side of the child’s head that appeared life-threatening.

Bush was having difficulty breathing, prompting EMTs to suck blood out of the child’s throat, the paramedic said.

He said there was little else they could do for her and that she needed to see a trauma physician immediately.

The police officer testified Lewis told him the girl fell from her bed.

Following a lunch recess Wednesday, jurors also heard from a former emergency room nurse who was on duty at Hancock Medical Center at the time of the incident.

“She was little bitty thing,” the nurse said. “She was not breathing adequately on her own.”

The nurse described all of the child’s injuries, which included a large hematoma on one side of her head, a smaller one on the other side, abrasions and lacerations on her forehead and eyebrow, bleeding in her mouth and bruises on her foot and leg.

The child’s pupils were unequally dilated, indicating a head injury, the nurse said.

She testified to the explanation Lewis gave for the child’s injuries: “He said he heard two thumps, and when he went into the room, he found her kind of half-on and half-off the bed.”

Lewis told her he tried to wake his daughter up but could not, she said.

The nurse contacted her supervisor, who then contacted child services.

“The explanation for the injuries did not correlate with the clinical findings,” she said.

The trial will continue Thursday.

Wesley Muller: 228-896-2322, @WesleySMuller