Heated testimony punctuates daycare murder trial

Court hears 911 calls from day toddler dies

ATLANTA – Janna Thompson of Janna’s Daycare in Alpharetta was only licensed to have six children in her care. On the day 3-year-old Max Stephens died in July 2014 – and on at least three other days, she had seven kids, according to prosecutors in her murder trial.

Little Max asphyxiated on a piece of twine in the backyard of the daycare while he was unsupervised, according to prosecutors. Thompson has been charged with second degree murder in connection with Max’s death.

The 911 call indicates a frantic Thompson tried to revive little Max with CPR after finding him unresponsive in the backyard of the home.  Max's mom, most spectators and even some jurors were left in tears while listening to the 911 call from the woman who had cared for the boy since he was an infant.

In emotional testimony Thursday, Fulton County Prosecutor Pete Johnson asked a Fulton County detective about inconsistencies in Thompson's story during three different interviews.

“She originally told me she had six full-timers and two part-timers,” the detective said. “What I learned through Bright From The Start…”

“Objection,” interjected one of the two defense attorneys.

Bright From The Start is the state agency responsible for managing daycare and early learning centers in Georgia.

“Overruled,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk said, responding to the objection.

“The actual rules were that she could have six paid students, but the part-timers were for two hours a day for kids attending after school,” the detective continued.

Prosecutor Johnson continued his line of questioning: “Did she lie to you?”

“This is entirely improper,” Defense attorney Ed Garland immediately interjected. “It’s a leading question and completely improper!”

“That’s for the jury to decide,” Judge Newkirk said.

“She was specific in the first two interviews that she had spoken with her son and told him she was taking the children outside,” the detective said. “I had spoken with her son and he said she had not talked to him, in the final interviews he said she hadn’t talked to him, just stuck her head in the door to see if he was awake.”

 On cross examination, Garland questioned the prosecution's theory that Thompson had left the playground for 18 minutes while she tended to another child and searched for UGA football schedules on her iPhone.

Testimony was slated to continue on Friday.


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