It’s been an emotional two weeks in the Napa courtroom where the couple accused of murdering 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher in 2014 are being tried simultaneously, but with different juries.
Kayleigh’s mother, Sara Lynn Krueger, 27, and her mother’s boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, 29, were arrested Feb. 2, 2014 – one day after police found Kayleigh dead in their apartment at 2060 Wilkins Ave.
Opening statements in the trial began May 1 before Judge Francisca P. Tisher. The trial, which prosecutors have said is moving quicker than expected, has a planned conclusion date of June 9.
What we’ve seen so far
In the last two weeks, Napa County prosecutors Lance Hafenstein and Kecia Lind have called 27 witnesses to the stand including police officers and investigators, Kayleigh’s family members, Krueger’s friends and former neighbors, the man who unknowingly helped the couple flee town and the woman who recognized them from the news in an El Cerrito IHOP in addition to forensic and toxicology experts.
The most compelling testimony so far has been Napa Police Officer Robert Chambers’ account of finding Kayleigh’s body at the crime scene on Feb. 1. His emotional testimony elicited tears from jurors and loud sobbing from Krueger. Photos of Kayleigh’s small, sallow body still in her princess bed accompanied his testimony.
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Video surveillance showing Krueger and Warner shopping at the South Napa Marketplace Target and riding the San Francisco International Airport’s AirTrain were shown to the court by prosecutors to indicate that the couple was acting normally while Kayleigh was dead in the apartment. Footage of Krueger and Warner’s police interviews was also shown.
One of the most impactful moments on jurors was when, after showing nearly 40 photos of Kayleigh’s autopsy, Deputy District Attorney Hafenstein stuffed a 41-inch-tall mannequin into the same freezer that Kayleigh’s body had been placed in following her death.
The dramatic scene caused Krueger’s defense attorney Jim McEntee to call for a mistrial to no avail.
What to expect this week
Prosecutors have at least one more medical professional to call as a witness on Monday.
McEntee, Krueger’s attorney, is expected to begin calling defense witnesses on Tuesday. It is still unknown whether or not Krueger herself will be testifying.