Murder is verdict for toddler’s death - Hi-Desert Star: News

Murder is verdict for toddler’s death

Marine convicted of second-degree murder, assault on a child causing death

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Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:30 am | Updated: 11:39 pm, Tue Oct 2, 2012.

JOSHUA TREE — Joshua Kruzik was found guilty of second-degree murder and assault on a child causing death Thursday morning, Sept. 27, in Joshua Tree Superior Court.

Kruzik, 23, was convicted in the death of 19-month-old Audrey Allen of Twentynine Palms. He was serving in the Marine Corps at the time of Allen’s death.

The toddler died Nov. 20, 2010, at Loma Linda University Medical Center due to injuries from blunt-force trauma to the head. Before and during his trial, Kruzik admitted he struck Allen in the head with his hand repeatedly while baby sitting her on the night of Nov. 19, 2010.

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday afternoon after hearing closing arguments from Deputy District Attorney Lisa Muscari and Kruzik’s defense attorney, David Cohn.

Over the course of the nearly three-week trial, jurors learned that Kruzik had been drinking heavily with friends at the Deli Bar in Twentynine Palms the night of the incident. He had also maintained a brief affair with Audrey’s mother, Melissa Marnell, prior to her daughter’s death.

Jurors heard testimony from Marnell in which she said she knew Kruzik used steroids and admitted to sometimes helping him inject them.

Audrey’s father, Timothy Allen, said he was also aware of Kruzik’s steroid use, but said he “had no reason to distrust him.”

Kruzik admitted to beating Audrey

Muscari insisted Kruzik was aware of his actions and their consequences, despite being intoxicated and possibly on steroids during the crime. Cohn said Kruzik should be held responsible for Audrey’s death, but he did not intend to kill Audrey. Cohn argued the incident was manslaughter, not murder.

In 2010, Kruzik told investigators that he was staying with the Allen family for the weekend before he flew out to his home base in Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was finishing a six-month training assignment in Twentynine Palms. The toddler’s parents asked Kruzik to watch Audrey while she slept in her room, so Marnell could get a tattoo.

In recorded interviews, Kruzik said he tripped on a pile of toys with Audrey in his arms and fell on her, knocking her unconscious.

Kruzik said he struck her in the head with his hand about four times to “try to get her to wake up.” He described his state of panic when she remained unconscious, telling investigators he tried to jolt her back to consciousness by covering her mouth to stop her breathing.

He pressed on her stomach, tried to induce vomiting and placed frozen food against her skin in what he described as desperate attempts to get Audrey to open her eyes.

Kruzik said he eventually gave up, laying Audrey back in her crib and passing out on the Allens’ bed.

The next morning, Audrey’s father, Timothy Allen, found her discolored and not breathing. Kruzik called 911 and performed CPR on the baby until paramedics arrived. She was taken to Hi-Desert Medical Center and then transferred to Loma Linda, where she later died.

A forensic and clinical psychologist, Dr. Veronica Thomas, testified Tuesday that after her evaluation of Kruzik, she concluded he suffered from body dysmorphic disorder, borderline personality disorder and alcohol dependency.

Prosecution said jury had enough evidence

Cohn told jurors his client wasn’t innocent, but wasn’t a cold-hearted, methodical killer either. He showed a presentation to jurors, outlining how to apply the law when coming to a verdict.

“A killing that would otherwise be murder is reduced to voluntary manslaughter if the defendant killed someone in the heat of passion,” Cohn said. He argued Kruzik, provoked by Audrey’s incessant crying, demonstrated uncharacteristic behavior that night.

Muscari painted a different picture of Kruzik to jurors.

“He did know what he was doing and he was aware of what he was doing,” she said.

She reminded the jury that Kruzik inflicted severe injuries on the child and made no attempt to call for help.

“It doesn’t matter if he was drinking. What matters is whether he was aware of what he was doing and he was,” Muscari said firmly. “The defendant beat this child and he left her there to die.”

Since Audrey’s death, her parents have divorced and now live in different states. Marnell, Audrey’s mother, was present in court Thursday as the verdict was read. She declined to comment.

Kruzik’s mother and grandparents were also present. His family wept as the verdict was read, calling the incident a “tragedy.”

“He’s a good kid, he just made a very bad mistake,” Kruzik’s grandmother said tearfully. “But the law is the law so that’s how it is.”

Kruzik is due back in court Nov. 30 for sentencing. He could face life in prison.

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  • aManAndHisCat posted at 12:04 am on Wed, Oct 2, 2013.

    aManAndHisCat Posts: 154

    These stories about such dysfunctional people are really sad, especially since they could have so easily have been avoided if our society was more proactive.

  • desert lily posted at 6:00 am on Sat, Sep 28, 2013.

    desert lily Posts: 233

    Actually, I taught on base at Pendleton for six years as a contractor. I know exactly what goes on there. The rapes (of other men, too), the spousal battery, the violence were not invisible.

  • DoesntMatter posted at 4:34 pm on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    DoesntMatter Posts: 57

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, let's slow down that feminist train of yours before you lead the amazonian revolt to enslave the male population or exterminate them entirely. There's no reason at all to make this sexist. You seem to forget how many women drown their babies.

    This is about the death of a child and the sentencing of a murderer. It is not about you getting a soapbox to bash heterosexual males and and Marines.

    The Marine Corps does random drug testing. While you sit on your porch half-baked and preach of your wacky ideals, you're going to sit there and tell us that the troops are blood-thirsty, killing machines? I bet you were the type who would've spat in Vietnam Vet's faces and called them baby killers as well. You would protest a veteran's funeral as well, wouldn't you?

    Take your lack of support else where and realize that this could've happened anywhere and by any profession. Steroids aren't limited to one profession. If you knew anything about the Corps' values, you wouldn't sit there and be an armchair warrior making accusations and assumptions just to make you look cool on the internet.[wink]

  • desert lily posted at 2:00 am on Mon, Oct 1, 2012.

    desert lily Posts: 233

    This kind of killing occurs in the natural world all the time. It happens among the great apes and among the big cats. A heterosexual male often kills the offspring of other males. It an act of male-on-male agression in which the life of the offspring is the weapon of war.

    This is no different for humans. Just look anywhere. The most dangerous animal on the planet is almost always the heterosexual male. Once in a rare while a woman or a gay man goes off the rails, too, but it is overwhelmingly the heterosexual males who are so dangerous.

    Is the Marine Corps the place where those who do not want to be drug tested work? On the other hand, I am sure the Corps values their soldiers all bulked up on steroids, makes them better killing machines...


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