Testimony Reveals Details of 3-year-old's Child Abuse

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

Family members filled the courtroom as the Hillsdale County prosecutor called his first witnesses against James Campbell. The very first was the state trooper who responded to the call the night Beautiful Skyla Villanueva was killed.

"I went up and checked on...... what was Beautiful," mumbled Michigan State Police Officer James A. Weldy as his lip quivered. "Seeing the round circular bite marks on her arms was about all I needed to see to know that there was other issues other then what I was being told of her falling down the stairs."

Paramedics tried to revive the child, then rushed her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Trooper Weldy claims Campbell became aggressive when Weldy tried take his girlfriend Ashley Ferguson in a separate car to the hospital.

"He came over and started yelling again," said Weldy. "He turned away, then turned back towards me and spit."

Cambell spit right in his face, according to Weldy's testimony. The second witness was the expert in forensic pathology who conducted the autopsy on 3-year-old Skyla.

"Skyla had many injuries to her head, abrasions, bruises...and in her hair was matted gum," described expert Diane Scala-Barnett, as she pointed to where the injuries took place. "This is not accidental injury, this is abusive head trauma," said Dr. Scala-Barnett, a physician, deputy coroner, and forensic pathologist who has conducted about 8,700 autopsies.

Dr. Scala-Barnett says the head injuries caused her death, though Skyla experienced more than 85 injuries all over her body including a fractured arm, human bite marks, and potentially deadly scalding from a hot liquid.

"It seemed to be a pour injury because it was coming down the chest, coming down the shoulder, and coming down the back. Then there was one pop on her left arm, like a splash," said Dr. Scala-Barnett. "The scalding injuries alone would have been horrendously painful."

The expert says the injuries were all intentional. But the defense is concerned about timline of abuse.

"The defense's view was that there was no strong testimony, nothing that I could hear, that that was caused by James Campbell," said defense attorney Barry Poulson.

Campbell's mother drove up from Ohio to court. She says she has never seen her son harm a child and blames Ferguson for the abuse. Both Campbell and Ferguson's family say they want justice for Skyla.

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