JOSHUA TREE — Jurors in the Audrey Allen murder trial heard recorded confessions from Joshua Kruzik Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 19.
Kruzik, 23, is charged with the murder of 19-month-old Audrey, who died Nov. 20, 2010, the day after she suffered blunt force trauma to her head.
In a Joshua Tree Superior Court room, prosecution attorney Lisa Muscari played recorded interviews Kruzik gave with Sgt. Lucas Niles of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Niles first spoke with Kruzik on Nov. 21, while Kruzik was a Marine on a six-month training assignment in Twentynine Palms. Kruzik was set to fly out to his home base in North Carolina later that day.
Upon first talking with Niles, Kruzik said he arrived at Melissa and Timothy Allens’ home in Twentynine Palms around 10:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, 2010, to baby sit Audrey so Tim Allen could accompany his wife while she got a tattoo at a nearby tattoo parlor. Kruzik said he arrived, went to sleep and woke up around 7:30 the next morning, when Melissa was getting ready for work.
Kruzik said he slept on the couch at the Allens’ house, where he was staying for the weekend. The Allens were fellow Marines.
He said he was under the impression that Audrey had died from a brain aneurysm and he could not provide Niles with any information about what could have happened to the toddler.
A follow-up interview with Niles produced a different story from Kruzik.
“Something very severe has happened to this baby … and somebody’s responsible for it. I don’t know who,” Niles told Kruzik.
After Niles explained Audrey had suffered severe abuse and her death could not have been accidental, Kruzik opened up.
“It was 10:30, I got there, saw Tim. I sat down on the couch … I don’t know if it was the door shutting or what, but she started crying,” Kruzik said of Audrey.
He said he tried to offer her toys and a cup of water, to no avail.
Kruzik initially tried to say he stumbled and fell on a pile of toys with Audrey in his arms, but Niles later told Kruzik even a hard fall could not have caused the injuries Audrey died from.
“I fell face forward, right into the (toys) and she stopped crying instantly,” Kruzik admitted. “I tried waking her up, I tried anything I could think of. She had blood on her lip and her nose. I tried everything to wake her up ….”
Kruzik confessed to hitting Audrey with the side of his hand to wake her up.
“I just started smacking the side of her head. Wake up! … For whatever reason I felt it necessary to try to cause her to wake up, I put my hand over her nose to try to get her to wake up … I tried choking off her airway, to gag her. Something, nothing, I tried pressing down on her tongue. I don’t know why but I thought it was necessary to push on her stomach to get her to throw up and wake up.”
With each hit, Kruzik said, Audrey fell down and he lifted her back up. He estimated he struck her about four times.
Kruzik told Niles he tried placing wet paper towels and frozen food items on Audrey to wake her up, but her eyes began to get puffy and she remained unconscious.
“I went and laid her down in her crib and thought, ‘I’ll explain it to them in the morning,’” Kruzik said.
He said later that evening, when the Allens returned home, he was asleep in their bed. Tim Allen woke him up and escorted him to the couch. The next morning, he said he suggested he and Tim Allen go check on Audrey. When they went into her room, Allen found his daughter discolored and not breathing. He yelled for Kruzik to call 911. Kruzik performed CPR on the baby until paramedics arrived.
Audrey was rushed to Hi-Desert Medical Center and then transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where she died.
The trial will resume Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Joshua Tree Superior Court.