Group in court to decide if a child's memory is reliable 17 years later - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Group in court to decide if a child's memory is reliable 17 years later

Here's Desiree with her mother not long before her mother was killed. Here's Desiree with her mother not long before her mother was killed.
Here's Thomas Zich, the man accused of killing Desiree's mother. Here's Thomas Zich, the man accused of killing Desiree's mother.

By Lisa Rantala - bio | email

Posted by Kate Oatis - email

TOLEDO (WTOL) - She was 3 years old when her mother was killed. Now a judge must decide if she will testify against her stepfather in his murder case.

The argument took 90 minutes on Monday, and the question remains: Should Mary Jane Zich's daughter testify about what she saw when she was 3 years old?

The defense says an emphatic "no."

"There's all this information concerning the influence, concerning the changing stories, concerning the fantasy statements," argued defense attorney Alan Konop.

The child apparently told experts her mother was killed at their home, then at McDonald's and then, they say she claimed a monster killed her mother. Only later did she say her stepfather did it.

Zich's defense team brought up a medical expert who said Desiree would not have been competent to testify back then.

But now that Desiree is 20 years old, prosecutors argue that State law says she can testify.

"This child actually made statements prior to the body being found. She made a statement that daddy put mommy in the trunk of the car," said assistant prosecutor Chris Anderson.

They say if Desiree's memory had been influenced by family members or lost due to time lapse, a jury can conclude that for themselves.

"A jury would be able to understand inconsistent statements, would they not?" Anderson queried.


Copyright 2009 WTOL, a Raycom Media station. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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