LISBON - The two men claiming to be the father of deceased infant Derek Dennison were among those testifying Friday in the murder trial of the child's mother, Miranda Todd.
The 24-year-old Todd faces up to life in prison if convicted of all three charges. In addition to being charged with murder for the July, 23, 2010 death, Todd is charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for her alleged failure to provide proper care for her 7-month-old son.
Greg Dennison and John Ingledue both claimed to be the baby's father during the third day of testimony in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court. They both also claimed to have an on-again-off-again relationship with Todd.
Dennison said he was at the hospital when the baby was born, signed the birth certificate and supported him monetarily. Ingledue said he and Todd began discussing it when the baby was about two months old and eventually came to the conclusion Ingledue was the actual father.
Dennison, who already had two children including one with Todd, testified she did not want another child and had tried to convince him to let her give Derek to her mom or let her have an abortion. He said he did not want either. After Derek was born, Dennison said he felt Todd had more of a connection or bond with him than with their daughter, Aubrey.
In late spring or early summer 2010, Dennison testified Todd and he argued because she told him she wanted to go fishing with a friend. Dennison said at the time he thought she was lying because she never went fishing before, at least not without him. She left for three days, during which time she did not call to check on the children.
When Todd returned she took Derek, but left Aubrey behind.
"She was willing to let me keep Aubrey," Dennison said, "and I wasn't fighting with her to keep Derek."
However, Todd did keep Aubrey one night in July. Both Dennison and his mother, Vickie Dennision, who testified later Friday, said Aubrey went to spend the night of July 3 with Todd.
"She called and said she could never come back," Greg Dennison said. "She said she brough demons with her. They said they seen the demons, and she brought her back."
Dennison said he was shocked and could not believe Todd had said something like that. He also described one incident stating Todd threw his daughter onto a couch from about five feet away. The child cried at first, he said, and then laughed.
Vickie Dennison said she spoke to Todd, who agreed first to keep Aubrey one night and then initially a second night. However, Dennison said Todd later changed her mind about the second night because she told her she had a party to go to.
"I said, Miranda, you're a mom," Dennison relayed about their conversation. "You've got kids to take care of."
Greg Dennison called Ingledue a "lifelong friend" of his and knew Ingledue and Todd also had a relationship. After Ingledue and Todd decided he was the father, Ingledue said he and his fiance at the time, Ashley Jezek, would go to the Dennison house to play with Derek and the other children. However, he did not tell Dennison he believed Derek was his son until after the baby died.
Todd left the infant with Ingledue on the afternoon of July 17, 2010. Photos taken that day with a cell phone showed Ingledue holding Derek and no bruises on the baby's forehead. When the photos were shown to Todd and her attorneys, Todd had to wipe tears from her eyes.
Ingledue said he did not see Derek alive again. He testified he tried later that week, but could hear Steven Van Pelt, who Todd had been living with at the time, in the background telling Todd they could not see the baby.
On July 18, the baby was left with Kori Stiffler, the sister of Kayli Stiffler, another resident of the home with Todd and Van Pelt. Sandra Stiffler, their mother, testified she saw Derek lying in his car seat on her kitchen floor with a large bruise on the right side of his head and several smaller bruises across the middle to the left side.
"What the h-- happened to him," Sandra Stiffler said was her immediate reaction. She asked Kayli Stiffler about what had happened the next day and said she was given an explantation about hard toys and crib rails. Sandra Stiffler said she believed the explantation for some of the smaller bruises, but did not believe it possible with the large bruise.
Stiffler also testified she saw the baby with Todd the first time around the start of summer. When asked by Assistant Prosecutor Tammy Riley Jones, Todd's relationship with the baby, Sandra Stiffler said "in a word, cold."
"There didn't seem to be a whole lot of feeling there. That mother infant bond, it just didn't seem to be there."
On the night the infant died, Ingledue said he went to the hospital and talked to Todd, who claimed the baby had bruises on his head which were not bad. However, Jones asked him if he had seen bruises on Derek like those would he have taken the child to the hospital. Ingledue confirmed he would have.
After the baby's death, Ingledue said Todd stayed a couple weeks with him, Jezek, Jezek's mother Pam Augustine after Augustine offered to let Todd stay on the couch.
"At first she would cry and then everything would be okay," Ingledue said of Todd's demeanor after those two weeks. "Then she would want to go partying, go four wheeling, go get drunk."
During that time Ingledue also said Todd had a brief relationship with Michael Condon. The same day they went to the funeral home to make the arrangements and hold the baby for the last time, Ingledue said Todd and Condon were kissing, making out and hugging, which he thought was "inappropriate for the situation." He called it "puppy love" and said Todd and Condon were only together a few days before "she moved on to another man."
When asked by Jones if he had asked Todd about what happened to the baby, he said he asked but could not get a "straight answer from her."
"I wanted answers, but was also afraid to know the truth, as I am now," Ingledue said.
Greg Dennison testified he did not go to the hospital the night Derek died. He had no ride, no license and believed everyone there was already leaving by the time he got off work. However, he let Todd come and spend the night on his couch with him. In the morning the two went to Jobs and Family Services to sign paperwork which did not allow Todd to be around Aubrey unsupervised.
Dennison said he later dropped Todd in Salem near where she had been living with Van Pelt and Kayli Stiffler. Dennison said Todd told him she was afraid of Van Pelt at that point.
"She was worried Steve was going to hurt her," Dennison said. "She didn't know what he would do to her if he could do that to a baby."
Both men and Vickie Dennison also testified about the tensions and yelling at the funeral, which were covered in Thursday's testimony by Todd's grandmother and mother. Vickie Dennison said she was not invited to the funeral home service, which was invitation only. Her son, Greg Dennison invited her to the cemetery. When she arrived, Vickie Dennison said Todd started yelling and walking down the driveway toward them claiming they had no right to be there and using obscenities.
"(Todd's) always about the drama," Vickie Dennison said. "She likes to be the center of attention everywhere she goes."
"Even at the burial of her baby?" Assistant Prosecutor Tim McNicol questioned.
"Yes, because it was about her, it wasn't about Derek, it was about her."