Opening statements reportedly began Tuesday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial of a Fairview Heights man accused of using heroin while killing a 5-month-old girl.
St. Clair County Assistant State's Attorney Nicole Rice said Kenneth Zook, 26, admitted to shaking Alayna Frazier on Feb. 17, 2008, and demonstrated to police how he shook her.
Rice said Zook confessed, "I shook the baby ... I (expletive) shook her because she wouldn't stop crying."
"He shook her five times," Rice said.
"Then, ladies and gentlemen, she stopped crying. Then, she stopped breathing."
Rice said doctors believe Alayna's injuries were indicative of "purposeful trauma" or "nonaccidental trauma."
Alayna was reportedly found on the floor of her mother's apartment at 1001 Belle Valley Drive in Belleville. She later died at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis.
Defense attorney Thomas Q. Keefe III argued that the baby's injuries were inconsistent with shaking, and that the jury should hold Zook responsible for involuntary manslaughter, not first-degree murder.
On the day in question, Zook and Alayna's mother, Kayla Frazier, reportedly went to St. Louis to buy heroin and injected themselves on the ride home. Alayna and Kayla Frazier's toddler daughter, Isabella, were in the back seat.
Keefe said the evidence reportedly shows that they both "shot a lot of heroin."
"You can't hide behind the drug," Keefe said. "You're still responsible. You're still accountable ... At the end of the case, he will be held accountable."
Keefe said Zook told police what happened: He blacked out from the heroin, and then he dropped Alayna or fell on top of Alayna.
Keefe reportedly said the medical evidence shows Alayna died from blunt force trauma and that the autopsy does not mention Alayna was shaken.
If shaking caused Alayna's death, then her spinal cord and organs would have been damaged and there should have been bruises where she was held, Keefe said.
"None of it is there," Keefe said. "What he said happened couldn't have happened."
Keefe said police elicited a confession from Zook. "They walked him right into it."
For about an hour, jurors reportedly watched a video of Zook's interview with police in which he recounted how he and Kayla Frazier acquired heroin and returned to her home.
Zook said he fed Alayna with a bottle while Kayla Frazier was in the shower. He said Alayna was sleepy, but fine, and he put her in a baby bed upstairs.
Afterward, he injected two more buttons of heroin. He went back to Alayna when she started to cry.
Zook said he then blacked out and fell on the bed. Then he told police he blacked out and dropped her.
Police told Zook that Alayna's injuries were not consistent with suffocation or a fall and asked if something else happened. They asked Zook if he knew about shaken baby syndrome and said medical evidence could show how many times a baby was shaken.
Police then asked Zook how many times he shook Alayna, if her head hit her back or chest and if she continued to cry.
"She wouldn't stop crying," Zook said. "She didn't want to go to bed."
Zook used a doll to demonstrate to police how he held Alayna and how hard he shook Alayna.
After police questioned Zook, he called Kayla Frazier from the interview room.
"I told them I shook the baby," Zook told her. "Please listen to me. Don't cry ... I'm so sorry. I made a mistake ... I want to hang myself in this cell ... I did the right thing by admitting what I did ... It was an honest to God mistake ..."
Zook wore jeans, a dark gray sweater and black glasses to court Tuesday. He rested his chin on his left fist as the video played, taking notes and talking to his attorney at times.
The prosecution team also called Alayna's father, Roy Frazier, as their first witness and showed jurors a photo of Alayna taken about two months before she died. Belleville Police Detective Sgt. Matthew Eiskant also testified that he interviewed Zook three times.
Kayla Frazier, 27, was charged with endangering the health of a child. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to probation. She was later charged with other crimes and is currently serving a three-year sentence at the Lincoln Correctional Center.
To Read More on this Story: Click HereIf you have any questions or concerns about what can be done to help babies who have been shaken, or families of babies who have died, please call Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm toll-free for free consultation at (888) 592-5437 (KIDS), click on contact us here, or use the web form provided at http://www.keanelaw.com
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