UPDATE: 12:15 PM
The state is going over Olyn’s notes and makes mention of another person Keaton is apparently in a relationship with by the name of “Joe.” The state adds that this counselor is the first person Keaton has ever told about physical or sexual abuse she experienced. Keaton also never mentioned this to Kentucky authorities when the family was investigated from 2000 to 2003. The state is trying to imply that Heather Keaton was using these counseling sessions to allow for a medical withdrawal so she could continue her relationship with John DeBlase.
The Counselor testified that she didn’t believe Keaton was using these sessions to seek attention at the time. She couldn’t say whether or not Keaton was the type of person to do that. Olyn couldn’t say whether Keaton was the type of person to malinger either.
UPDATE: 11:30 AM
Court starts promptly at 8:40 this morning. The first witness is a friend of Heather Keaton’s from Spring Hill College. Holly testified about the night Keaton and friends were getting ready for a big formal dance. She said Keaton was excited because she had never gone to prom. John DeBlase arrived at the dorms and they all walked to the dance. Holly said John said something to Heather soon after arriving at the dance and then she left with John back to the dorm.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright attempted to undermine Holly’s testimony by telling the jury Keaton had multiple relationships and that Holly still maintains close ties with Keaton and her family. Next the jury heard from a jail friend of Heather Keaton’s. The irony is much of the state’s capital murder case rested on testimony from a former inmate.
Next the woman who raised Heather Keaton takes the stand. She knew from the day she was born that her vision was not going to be good. She warned her about staying away from John DeBlase because he was married with two kids, believed the situation was strange but she never met John nor the children.
On cross examination she said she tried to do right by Heather. The state show’s financial documents belonging to Heather Keaton and asks the witness about other relationships Keaton had with other men named “Patrick” and “Joe” but the witness said she has no knowledge of those men.
Rich asks Ms. Green about whether she is caring for Heather and John’s child but the witness doesn’t want to talk about that on the record. The jury is dismissed while they discuss this. The state says it is relevant evidence because, if she is given life without parole, she could still have a relationship with that child. Judge Rick Stout questions this because it doesn’t meet the criteria of an aggravating circumstance. The defense argues it’s not relevant because the child shouldn’t be brought into this case. So far the judge will not allow the questions about the child to be brought into court but the DA is looking up some case law precedent.
“The defense is going to say she is going to have this horrible life in prison without parole but she will still have access to the commissary and she can still have a relationship with this child,” said Rich as she argued for allowing questions about the child. The judge ultimately rules against allowing questions about the child even though the subject has been brought up during the trial phase. No further questions for Juanna Green.
The next witness is a corrections officer at the jail Ms. Walker. She got to know Heather Keaton.
“Ms. Keaton most of the time needs assistance from other inmates, they were very nice helping her get around.” said Walker. She was Keaton would always have a book with her and would always read with the book very close to her face. The state begins its cross examination. Jennifer Wright brings up Heather Keaton’s disciplinary record of fights with other inmates but the inmate in unaware of her infractions.
Linda Olyn, a counselor at Spring Hill College is the next to testify. Heather came to see her during the first week of school in 2007. During their first meeting Keaton mentioned some mistreatment at 12 years old. Keaton claimed her dad physically abused her too. Olyn says Keaton gave that information to explain as to why they have depression or other issues.
In a meeting two weeks later Olyn recounts that her vision problems made her miss class. Olyn said migraines plus medication made studies difficult.
“Things aren’t making sense to me,” said Olyn. “She seems to be all over the place with dates and places, the sequence of things I’m having trouble following.” Keaton told her that her family was functional but not loving or nice. She says Keaton told her she had trouble saying no and the counselor agreed that she let other people manipulate her.
“It kept hitting me in the face that she’s dependent on other people,” said Olyn. She explained she believes Keaton has a dependency disorder. It may stem from her blindness that makes her dependent on other people.
“Heather’s mother confronted her about having secrets, and abuse,” said Olyn recounting another session. Eventually the counselor took her to Mobile Infirmary after repeated sessions mentioning abuse and depression. Eventually in the fall of 2008, around the time she met John DeBlase, she stopped coming. In early 2009 she was back in to see the counselor. She noted there were “issues with John and the children”
On cross examination the state points out that Keaton didn’t have problems getting around campus, occasionally she needed help. ——–
The state finished presenting its first round of witnesses showing aggravating factors, reasons Heather Keaton deserves the death penalty. The state will have more witnesses on rebuttal.
Today it should be mostly defense witnesses today presenting mitigating circumstances. Yesterday we heard from a medical health professional who said Keaton was bi-polar with PTSD from years of abuse she suffered herself. More witnesses should come forward today with testimony the defense hopes will convince a jury to spare her life. A Heather Keaton jail friend and people that knew her during her Spring Hill College days should take the stand as well.