FORT WAYNE – Already serving a prison sentence for her role in neglecting her then-2-year-old son a year ago, Holly Brooks had a consistent answer to questions Tuesday about who was caring for him.
According to Brooks’ testimony, her ex-boyfriend, Amilcar Estrada, 41, was taking care of everything the toddler needed while she abandoned parenting to get high in the bedroom. He handled the bathing, the feeding and the disciplining.
An Allen Superior Court jury will decide Estrada’s fate this week on a single charge of neglect of a dependent, a Class B felony punishable by six to 20 years in prison.
Last month, Brooks, also known as Holly Fedock, was sentenced to five years in prison, with an additional five years suspended on the same charge. She pleaded guilty in January.
Both were charged a little more than a year ago, after Brooks’ son, then 2, was taken to a hospital in critical condition and while having a seizure.
Doctors found numerous injuries, including bruises all over his body, contact burns on his face and leg, and three brain hemorrhages, according to court documents.
Brooks gave doctors several different explanations for the child’s many injuries, but both she and Estrada were the only ones to have had contact with the boy for several weeks, according to court documents.
During Tuesday’s testimony, Brooks struggled to maintain her composure as she admitted to failing as a mother, falling to depression and choosing drugs over her child.
It seemed easier, she said of abdicating her role to Estrada, whom she was living with after a fire damaged her home.
I stayed in the bedroom most of the time, she said, getting high.
Brooks testified no one but she and Estrada had any contact with the toddler in the three weeks before their arrest.
She said she awakened late that day and heard the boy crying. His diaper was wet and he had fresh bruises on his backside, she said.
As she testified, Estrada occasionally shook his head.
Brooks pleaded guilty without the benefit of a plea agreement and received no benefit in her sentence for testifying against her ex-boyfriend.
I’m just here for justice to be served, she said.
Estrada’s defense attorney, Nikos Nakos, said during opening statements that his client provided the only consistent care for the toddler.
Nakos contends, however, that Brooks and the boy stayed in Estrada’s apartment in the West Central neighborhood far less than prosecutors would like the jury to believe.
And Estrada never harmed the child, Nakos said.
Under cross-examination, Nakos pushed Brooks about her care for her son and the timeframe for when Estrada left the home that day and when she awakened to find her son crying.
The trial is expected to continue through Thursday.