Trial starts for mother of murdered 2-year-old


The trial of a woman whose boyfriend pleaded guilty to murdering her 2-year-old son started Monday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court with opening statements and testimony from a forensic pathologist.

Michelle Mooty, 23, of Dayton, was indicted by the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office on counts of permitting child abuse (causing death), complicity to commit felonious assault and endangering children.

Levi Barrett died Dec. 8, 2011. Joe Curtis Watson IV, the boyfriend, took Barrett to Good Samaritan Hospital, where medical personnel found numerous scars and extensive bruising all over Barrett’s body. Hospital personnel called Dayton police, whom arrested Watson and Mooty that day.

An autopsy revealed Barrett suffered deep contusions and bruising to internal organs and the coroner’s office ruled the death a homicide from blunt force trauma. Watson had told police the boy had fallen down a set of stairs.

Watson pleaded guilty to murder and three counts of endangering children and was sentenced in December to 15 years to life in prison.

During opening statements, assistant prosecutor Jon Marshall said evidence will show that Barrett “needed his mother to protect him” and that Mooty “chose not to do that.” Marshall also said this was “a trial of accountability and responsibility.”

Defense attorney Elizabeth Scott said that “hindsight is 20/20” and that no one had any idea of the level of abuse Watson inflicted upon the toddler.

The jury of seven women and five men plus two alternates watched as Montgomery County Coroner’s Office pathologist Brian Casto pointed out numerous bruises, scars and internal injuries all over Barrett’s body from 34 autopsy photos. Mooty did not look at the photos, keeping her eyes fixed on the defense table as Casto testified.

The trial in Judge Frances McGee’s courtroom is expected to last through Wednesday and possibly Thursday.

When he announced Watson’s sentence, prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said, “We plan to hold the victim’s mother accountable for her actions as well, for permitting this abuse.”

A caseworker visited Mooty’s home in late November 2011 on a referral, according to Ann Stevens of the Montgomery County Jobs & Family Services. Details of the referral and home visits are not public records under Ohio law.

Mooty has three other children, including a toddler with Watson.


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