The trial began today in the case of a Reedley babysitter accused of killing a toddler back in 2009.
With a weak smile, Megan Martzen kissed her husband and then walked into the Fresno County courtroom. The 22-year-old Reedley woman is on trial for the murder of 17-month-old Ella Van Leeuwen. Martzen was Ella's babysitter. She's accused of beating and killing the toddler back in 2009.
It was an emotional day inside the packed courtroom. Both families filed in to hear opening arguments. The prosecution addressed the jury saying "Sometimes, nice normal people do bad things."
The defense argues Ella's death was simply an accident.
Ella's mother Deniele Van Leeuwen was the first to take the stand. In her testimony, she said Martzen had been babysitting Ella and her brother for about four months. She said there were never any red flags and that her "kids enjoyed being with (Martzen)." Trying to hold back tears, she described her daughter's condition in the hospital, and the decision to take Ella off life support.
"We prayed about it and we didn't want her to suffer anymore."
A coroner's report shows Ella died of blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen. The prosecution says Martzen had not been feeling well. They believe she became frustrated and snapped.
The defense claims Ella accidentally fell off the bed. They also believe it wasn't the first time she fell. They say evidence points to prior injuries and suggested Ella fell before in her parent's care. Those injuries combined, they say, led to the girl's death.
Ella's parent testified against those accusations. They say there were no other falls and the day before this tragedy, Ella was a normal, happy toddler.