AUSTIN, Texas — One day after a courtroom saw video of an Austin mother admitting to leaving her baby in a dumpster, her defense team brought in their own witnesses.
Althea Johnson is accused of putting her newborn baby in a North Austin dumpster in 2017. When a man found the baby, it was described as being blue in color.
The prosecution rested their case at the end of the day April 10.
In the video interview that was recorded on Nov. 6, 2017, Johnson could be heard saying she was in a lot of pain the night before the baby was found. She said she later went to the bathroom, and that's where prosecutors say she gave birth.
"I put on some clothes, and I wrapped her up. I went outside. I was just walking, trying to figure out what to do," Johnson said in the video. "I don't really know what I was kind of thinking at the time though."
The defense on Thursday called Gilbert Harris, a former roommate of Johnson. She lived with Harris and his wife at the Mira Vista apartments during the time of the incident.
“Minus all this, we were family trying to look out for one another," said Harris. “We were trying to do better.”
He described Althea Johnson's disposition changing before the incident happened – she was more distant and less attentive.
The night before the baby was found abandoned in a dumpster, he and his wife were planning on having a date night. They got home around 2:30 a.m. He said he didn't notice any blood outside the home. Everyone was asleep.
He stayed up until about a quarter to five in the morning. He said the house was pretty quiet; he didn’t hear anything unusual.
“If you were awake and someone was giving birth across the living room, do you think you would have heard it?” asked Johnson's defense attorney. “I’m pretty positive I would have heard it," replied Harris.
When he woke up to go to work later that morning, "immediately, as soon as I opened the door, I saw blood on the ground.”
“I was going to work and all of a sudden I get pulled into all this and just like – it’s unbelievable," added Harris.
Harris became emotional and covered his eyes and looked down when he was shown a photo of the baby amidst trash, wrapped in a blanket from his living room.
After Harris, Althea Johnson's former employer testified. She was in the courtroom during Harris’ testimony, but after discussion with her and attorneys, the judge allowed her to testify.
Larose said Johnson's demeanor changed in the weeks leading up to the incident.
“I said something to her," said Larose. "I can’t remember what it was that she just kind of looked at me like irritated and she’s there – she’s there but she’s not there.”
Larose would give Johnson rides to and from work occasionally and asked her if she wanted more kids. “And what did she say?” asked the prosecution. "She said 'no, no more kids.'"
The defense is expected to bring in an expert witness Friday morning starting at 10 a.m.
Johnson faces up to 20 years in prison if she is convicted of abandoning a child.
Rebeca Trejo is reporting from the courtroom. Follow her on Twitter for live updates.
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