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Beating Death of Ecclesia Girl Described to Jury by Prosecutor

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From Associated Press

The 8-year-old daughter of the leader of the Ecclesia Athletic Assn. was struck by more than 500 blows as an example to other children before she died, a prosecutor alleged.

Dayna Broussard was beaten in a garage used by the Watts-based group after she defied adults who tried to punish her for taking food from another child’s plate, said Alfred J. French III, a deputy Clackamas County district attorney.

French, who delivered his opening statement in the manslaughter trial of four group members on Monday, said the punishment intensified over a one- to two-hour period until the child was left gasping for breath.

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Child Died

When adults finally took the child to a fire station for help early on Oct. 14, she was dead.

French said the victim’s younger brother was forced to count the strokes as the punishment was administered with a rubber hose, an electric cord, a piece of plastic pipe, a bamboo pole and a large belt used by weightlifters. More than 50 other children in the group were forced to watch, he said.

And at one point, defendant Constance Jackson, 38, bit the girl on the cheek and, with her teeth, lifted her from the cement floor “and shook her like a dog,” French said.

Monday’s opening arguments followed 11 weeks of jury selection in one of the most highly publicized criminal cases in Oregon history.

Father to Testify

The father of the dead girl, Eldridge Broussard Jr., is expected to testify for the defense. He was in Los Angeles when his daughter was killed.

Broussard has said he formed the association to divert inner-city children from a life of drugs and crime through athletics and tough discipline.

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In their opening statements, attorneys for two of the four defendants reminded jurors that Ecclesia’s home base, the Watts Christian Center, was surrounded by violence in the Los Angeles ghetto.

Jack Bernstein, attorney for defendant Frederick P. Doolittle, 28, said members of the mostly black group were different from the all-white jury because of their race and because of the way they had to live among drug dealers and prostitutes in the crime-ridden Watts district.

Trials Separated

Separate trials before a single jury are being held for Doolittle, Jackson, and Brian J. Brinson, 31, all of Los Angeles; and Willie K. Chambers, 35, of San Diego.

The trial went on in Oregon City after Circuit Judge John Lowe refused to move it to another county.

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