The mother of a 17-month-old boy killed in 1988 testified Monday that a former boyfriend, on trial for murdering her infant son, gave her different versions of how her son was injured.
Donna McLane told a San Diego Superior Court jury that Benjamin Chloupek, 26, of El Cajon, first told her that her son, Jeffri Brown, choked on something in their El Cajon apartment April 13, 1988, before being taken to a hospital.
But, later at the hospital, McLane said, Chloupek told her that the infant had fallen from a bed, apparently hitting his head on the floor.
Jeffri died of head injuries.
McLane cried several times as she recounted the statements and when she was shown photographs of her son. Judge William Kennedy ordered several recesses so she could compose herself.
Chloupek is also charged with child endangerment, child molestation and inflicting corporal injuries on a child.
Before his death, her son had no bruises and was fine, McLane told Deputy Dist. Atty. Caryn Rosen.
But, after she left the child with Chloupek to go to a store, she returned to find an ambulance at their apartment.
"I asked him what happened," McLane told the court. "He said he choked on a barrette that was lying on the floor.
"He started telling me how he found Jeffri, that he ran out of the house screaming." McLane said.
Later, Chloupek said the injury occurred when he heard a thump and then saw the child on the floor, she testified.
"Jeffri fell down from the bed," McLane quoted Chloupek as saying. She said Chloupek told her that he was putting away laundry soap at the time.
McLane testified that she was told by Chloupek not to talk to police.
The defendant remains free on $200,000 bail, which was posted last year.