The trial of Matthew Wagoner, the 31-year-old dad of baby Zoey Wagoner, continued on Tuesday in Greenfield, Indiana, with testimony from a woman who had been having an affair with Wagoner that he was alone with Zoey on the day that she died — even though the little girl’s mom, Jessica Wagoner, had been instructed by state child protection officers to keep Zoey away from her father.
Jessica Wagoner is also charged in the murder of Baby Zoey. She is scheduled to stand trial separately next month. She told investigators shortly after the parents were arrested last May that Matthew suffered from bipolar disorder and had harmed Zoey in the past.
In fact, an autopsy found, little Zoey had suffered so many brutal injuries in her short life that one investigator said that she “lived in hell” during her brief time in Earth.
Matthew Wagoner had previously been charged with child sexual abuse in a case involving his own 9-year-old daughter and her friend, according to a WRTV news report.
Wagoner still faces those charges, and is accused of sexually fondling one of the girls and taking cellphone pictures of her exposed genital area, and then photographing his own genitals. The girl whom Wagoner allegedly molested told police that she witnessed the man raping the other other young girl.
The below video contains a local news report on the Matthew Wagoner trial.
According to an account of Tuesday’s testimony by the Greenfield Daily Reporter newspaper, Krista Coffin often babysat Zoey as a favor to Jessica, but was also, she testified, involved in an extramarital affair with Matthew Wagoner, who has since been divorced from his then-wife, Jessica.
Coffin said under oath that the dad was not often left alone with Baby Zoey, but when she showed up at the Wagoner home on May 28 of last year, the day that Zoey perished, Matthew was the only person in the house with the baby girl.
Also on Tuesday, the Daily Reporter account said, jurors were shown horrific photographs of the external injuries on Zoey Wagoner’s dead body — injuries which included severe bruises all over her back and buttocks, cuts on her head, and other injuries around her eyes.
The photos did not show her internal injuries, which according to a medical examiner’s report included extreme damage to her intestines and pancreas as well as an excruciatingly painful lacerated liver. The extent of her internal injuries appeared to indicate that someone had stomped on the baby, the medical report stated.
Matthew Wagoner was in a frantic and depressed state when Greenfield police arrived at his home after his daughter had died — but he claimed that the little girl had suffered her injuries in a fall from bed.
Nonetheless, he appeared suicidal and two days later, according to the testimony of a police officer assigned to guard Wagoner’s room at a local hospital where he was sent for evaluation, the dad tried to hang himself with a belt in the lavatory of the hospital room. Though his suicide attempt did not succeed, he told the officer that he wanted to die.
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Matthew Wagoner is also charged with child neglect, in addition to murder because he failed to seek help for little Zoey even long after it was clear that she was badly injured and in grave danger.
On Tuesday, prosecutors told the jury that Wagoner was urged repeatedly not only by friends but even by a complete stranger to seek help for his obviously distressed daughter. A nurse who noticed Wagoner walking his daughter in a stroller at a convenience store on May 28 testified that she told the dad to seek help for the little girl who was clearly unwell.
Krista Coffin also testified at the trial that she pleaded with Matthew Wagoner to call 911, but he simply replied, “I can’t.” It was Coffin herself who called the emergency number, using Wagoner’s cell phone.
[Photos via Hancock County Jail/Facebook]