Defendants testify in FUMC Daycare trial

The two suspects on trial this week for their alleged roles in child abuse at the First United Methodist Church daycare testified on their own behalves Wednesday.

Attorney Eric Bearden called former day care employee  Allison Simpson, who’s charged with 30 counts of criminal abuse, to the stand.

She told Bearden she was sorry for the rough treatment of infants shown to the jury in several videos, but claimed she didn’t realize she was being that rough at the time.

Special prosecutor Blake Chambers provided evidence of several trainings Simpson completed regarding head trauma and how to properly handle infants. She said several times that she was overworked without enough help and stressed when the videos showed her handling the infants in her care roughly.

Nina Morgan testified on her own behalf in the afternoon, and insisted that she would never purposefully hurt any child and she reported actions by Simpson to former daycare director Abby Leach.

The charges from the indictment stem from videos in December 2018 and January 2019, but there has been testimony the treatment happened months earlier when video recordings no longer exist.

The defense rested its case Wednesday afternoon, with Judge John Atkins informing the jury that they will start at 8 a.m. Thursday with jury instructions and then closing arguments from both sides before heading into deliberations.

Former daycare director Abby Leach and former pastor Paige Williams are scheduled to go to trial in August for allegedly breaching their duties to protect the children.