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.”

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