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Whitby murder trial focusses on toddler's injuries

“He was a very loving child, he brought so much sunshine in our home,” says grandmother.

REGINA – The third day of a murder trial in Regina King’s Bench began with further testimony from a family member.

On June 10, 2020, 18-month-old Emerson William Bryan Whitby was rushed to Regina General Hospital after an apparent cardiac event while in the care of his mother, Chelsea Rae Whitby. Young Emerson was not responsive, nor breathing on his own. Ultimately, he was declared brain dead hours after his arrival at RGH.

Darla Jolly, paternal grandmother to the victim, spoke of time spent with the toddler during the day prior to his death. In questioning from Crown attorney Aly Sparks, Jolly spoke of it being a typical day with Emerson. She described him as “always smiling.”

“He was a very loving child,” Jolly said. “He brought so much sunshine in our home.”

She described a similar timeline of events on June 9 as her husband, Travis Jolly, remembered during his time as a witness yesterday afternoon.

Again, questions revolved around the bruising on Emerson’s face and if any falls or rough play had occurred while at the Jolly residence. Images Jolly had taken on her cell phone were used as evidence in the case, and Sparks asked her the reason for taking so many images.

“I had started to take photos because we were in contact with a lawyer on Riley’s (Jolly, Emerson’s biological father) behalf,” Jolly said. “We had known that he (Emerson) had been reported to CPS.”

When asked about Emerson’s appearance in the hospital as compared to the day before, Jolly became emotional, wiping away tears.

“He just looked broken,” she said. “He was not Emerson.”

Much of the morning was spent reviewing photos and video of Emerson, and focused on communication between Jolly and Whitby. In cross-examination, defence counsel Darren Kraushaar established that his client and Jolly had been in communication - mainly through text messages - regarding Emerson for some time. Milestones, visitation scheduling, and updates about medical concerns were common between the two.

Kraushaar also noted that Whitby initiated holding a family meeting between herself, Riley, and the Jolly’s to discuss best outcomes for Emerson and time for the boy to be with his father. Riley’s work schedule impeded on contact with Emerson, and the intent was to find ways to still have a decent amount of visitation.

“It’s not about Chelsea restraining contact, but about Riley having time in his work schedule,” Kraushaar said of the scheduling plan, clarifying why the visitation schedule was every second weekend and one day during the week.

Court also heard from the physician who assessed Emerson after a call to the Ministry of Social Services by Riley Jolly.

“He was not a happy child, he was not thrilled with the exam,” Dr. Sharon Leibel explained of Emerson during the full physical examination.

An area she was concerned with was the bruising on Emerson’s face and upper body, detailing her findings in answering Crown attorney Adam Breker’s line of questioning.

Aside from he various bruises discovered, Dr. Leibel noting some finding from a radiologist that showed two healing posterior rib fractures.

Evidence will continue tomorrow.

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