Hammers Jury Scheduled To Begin Deliberations Friday Morning

Children’s Hospital Employee Who Reported Alleged Smothering Incident “Lied,” Defendant Insists

Thursday, September 27, 2012 - by Judy Frank

The fate of a Smyrna woman charged with trying to smother her four-year-old son is now in the hands of a Hamilton County Criminal Court jury.

Late Thursday afternoon prosecution and defense attorneys completed their final arguments to jurors, who are slated to begin deliberations in the case against Monica Hammers on Friday morning. 

Earlier Thursday, Ms. Hammers took the stand to tell jurors her version of events leading to her 2011 arrest as a result of allegations she held a pillow over her son’s face to stop him from whining while he was a patient in Children’s Hospital.

She exhibited a wide gamut of behaviors during her testimony. Questions from her attorney, Harry Christensen, periodically elicited loud sobs. She became combative, however, when prosecutor Charlie Minor began his cross examination.

The hospital employee who reported seeing her try to smother her son was lying, Ms. Hammers said flatly. Further, she contended, the investigator who filed criminal charges against her did so because he was angered by her desire to have an attorney present during questioning.

Under cross examination, Ms. Hammers acknowledged that she had talked to her attorney after she was ejected from the hospital – just one day before the investigator questioned her.

Since attorney Christensen had advance knowledge of her scheduled meeting with the investigator, the prosecutor asked her, “Why wasn’t your attorney there?”

“Objection,” attorney Christensen said, rising to his feet.

“Sustained,” Judge Barry Steelman responded.

Ms. Hammers said she and her son’s father, Richard Griffin, have been engaged in a bitter, ongoing custody battle since the child was three weeks old.

She said it was Mr. Griffin who approached doctors suggesting that she had abused her son medically by repeatedly seeking care for nonexistent illnesses – a suspicion that eventually led Children’s Hospital to admit the child so they could assess his actual condition.

It was during that hospital stay that one of the sitters assigned to stay with the child around the clock reported that she saw Ms. Hammers hold a pillow over the child’s face.

During closing arguments, both attorneys urged jurors to use common sense during deliberations.

The defense attorney, pooh-poohing the testimony of the sitter who said she observed the incident, reminded jurors that medical records indicate the child suffered no injury and did not appear to be upset. 

DA Minor, however, reminded jurors that Children’s nurses reported Hammers was anxious and sometimes acted inappropriately during her child’s hospital stay. Further, he said, Ms. Hammers was determined to do everything she could to make sure the little boy’s father did not get custody. 

On the other hand, he said, “the sitter had no bone to pick with anybody.”


Cleveland Police Officer Charged In Case Involving Short-Lived Chief Is Arrested Again; TBI To Intervene

The Cleveland Police officer involved in a weekend incident in McMinn County that resulted in the demotion of brand-new Cleveland Police Chief Dennis Maddux has been arrested again. Bradley County Sheriff officials said Officer Jeffrey Griggs was taken into custody Tuesday evening for Violation of an Order of Protection issued after the McMinn County incident. Meanwhile, ... (click for more)

Corker To Hold Hearing On U.S. Strategy Against ISIS

Senator Bob Corker, will preside over a hearing titled, “The President's Request for Authorization to Use Force Against ISIS: Military and Diplomatic Efforts” on  Wednesday, March 11.   The hearing will include testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. ... (click for more)

Women Don't Ask For Rape, They Ask For Justice

The stereotypical irrationality that women typically lie about rape has brought an enormous amount of social stigma to this population. Many like to think that rape is not a huge issue in the United States, and that the media blows it out of proportion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that approximately 17.7 million females in America have been raped, with 108,612 ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Happy Birthday, Mr. Berg

This past Monday we should have closed the Post Office, let kids out of school, and lowered our flags to half-mast. March 2 is the anniversary of Moe Berg’s birthday and the legendary Casey Stengel once said Moe was “the strangest man ever to play baseball.” Moe played major league baseball for 16 years, finishing with the Boston Red Sox in 1939 and a lifetime batting average of ... (click for more)

Double Overtime Thriller: Central Boys Going To State

For all the folks who came to Chattanooga State Tuesday night for the Class AA sectional battle between Livingston Academy and Region 3-AA champ Central, they got their money's worth and more. And they even got some free basketball to boot. Needing a couple of overtimes, the Purple Pounders will be heading to Murfreesboro and MTSU's Murphy Center next week for the TSSAA State ... (click for more)

Blackman Blazes A Trail To State By Bashing Bradley, 55-35

(Story will be updated) MUFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Class AAA state champions are still alive and well. Blackman raced past outmanned Bradley Central, 55-35, Tuesday night in a Class AAA sectional victory that blazed a path right to the boys state tournament at nearby Middle Tennessee State University starting on March 11. The Blaze (24-5) will be making their fourth ... (click for more)