To view original article click here
The Houston Chronicle
Published 5:30 am, Tuesday, May 22, 2007
By HARVEY RICE
GALVESTON — A Galveston County judge today ordered a competency hearing for an Arkansas man after hearing testimony that he placed his 2-month-old daughter in a microwave oven, a refrigerator, a hotel room safe and punched her in the groin.
District Judge Susan Criss also denied a request by the attorney for Joshua Joyce Mauldin, 19, of Warren, Ark., for a reduction in bail from $250,000 to $100,000.
Mauldin’s attorney, Charles Kaufmann, requested the competency hearing. “I agree he should remain for a short time in jail because he does need to be examined,” Kaufmann told the judge.
Mauldin began sobbing as bailiffs led him from the courtroom after the hearing.
In an interview after the hearing, Kaufmann said he sought the competency hearing because of his discussions with Mauldin and his discovery that Mauldin was taking medication for depression.
Criss scheduled the competency hearing for July 13.
Testimony during the bail reduction hearing by Galveston police Detective Holly Johnson offered the first detailed public recounting of the events on the night the baby was injured.
Johnson, who interviewed Mauldin, said he arrived at the Quality Inn in Galveston with his daughter; wife Eva Marie Mauldin; and mother, Joni Mauldin, about midnight May 10.
In an interview with the Chronicle on Monday, Eva Marie Mauldin said that God had called her husband to the ministry and that the Holy Spirit had chosen Galveston as the place to begin.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Xochitl Vandiver, Johnson testified that Mauldin was alone in the room with his daughter shortly after midnight May 10 while his wife was unloading luggage from the car. “He became agitated,” Johnson said, and tossed the baby on one of the two beds, then on the other before striking her in the groin.
She said Mauldin then put the baby in the hotel room safe, then placed her in the refrigerator for about 5 seconds. He then put her in the microwave oven, telling investigators he put it on the lowest setting, which he believed was 10 seconds.
But police crime scene investigator Scott Pena said in an interview that he examined the microwave and found that the lowest setting was 10 minutes.
“I don’t know if we will ever know how long she was in there,” Johnson said after the hearing.
Johnson said the baby was burned on the left side of her face, her left ear and left shoulder.
Mauldin initially told police that he was making coffee and spilled scalding water on his daughter, but investigators did not believe the injuries were consistent with his version of events.
Challenged by an investigator from Children’s Protective Services, Mauldin admitted that he put his daughter in the microwave, Johnson said. “He couldn’t live with the lie any more,” Johnson said.
The child was placed in a foster home in Galveston County on Monday after being released from the Shriners Burns Center here, where she underwent at least two skin grafts by doctors from the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Eva Marie Mauldin says that she will fight for custody of her child at a mediation scheduled for Wednesday with CPS. If mediation fails, a hearing will be held before a family court judge.
During the bail reduction hearing, Vandiver asked Johnson about Eva Marie Mauldin’s ability to care for her child. “Does she appear to be protective of the child?” Vandiver asked.
“No,” Johnson replied.
Johnson also testified that Joshua Mauldin did a four-month hitch in the Army, where he was convicted on a larceny charge, but had not further details.
His wife said Monday that he spent six months in the stockade.
Eva Marie Mauldin remains under investigation and District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk has said other charges could be filed.