Jury deliberations continue today in wooden box case
by Shaka S. Lias
Mar 25, 2011 | 2200 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Assistant District Attorney Shelly Faulk told jurors on Thursday that her usual theme for closing arguments was missing in this case. She said she couldn't think of one because there is no theme this time.

"Common sense does not require a theme, this is what this case comes down to," Faulk said.

Both sides rested Thursday morning in the case involving Christopher and Heather Leslie and a 7-year-old relative they put in a wooden box and fed cayenne pepper.

During testimony, Christopher Leslie admitted to building the box for the boy to help control his discipline problems. Leslie testified he was at his "wits' end" and didn't know what else to do.

His wife, he said, was against the box from the beginning. "She didn't want me to build the box," he told jurors.

But, he did, and when the boy misbehaved, he gave him two options -- go to his room for the rest of the day or get in the box. The boy, Christopher Leslie said, chose the box.

The man maintained the boy was only in the box for 30 minutes maximum -- he'd set the timer on the microwave to be sure. Sometimes, if the boy calmed down, he was allowed out before the allotted time.

The boy testified on Wednesday and said oftentimes it was hot and he couldn't breathe.

"Heather checked on him and put a wet cloth on his head," Leslie said of his wife's involvement. Christopher Leslie testified that the boy was put in the box on two different days in March 2010.

In closing arguments, attorney for Christopher Leslie, David Brookshire, said his client's actions were justified. "We feel that he was justified, (but) it was not the best decision."

He described Leslie as a good person who "stepped up" when his first and second wife left. Brookshire said his client should not be facing nine felonies for his actions.

"He asked for guidance in helping with an unruly child, instead he got nine felonies," Brookshire said.

Heather Leslie, under the advice of her attorney, Samir Patel, did not testify.

Patel told jurors in closing arguments his client was against the box idea, but didn't have much of a choice. He said the Euharlee Police Department and Bartow County Department of Family and Children Services didn't do their job.

"Individuals don't want to admit their fault, and the Leslies are paying for it because they are on trial," Patel said.

Shelly Faulk reinforced the case by placing the box directly in front of jurors.

"Dogs would not be put in a box like this," she said slamming the top down. "No ventilation, no lights, no way out, yet that 7-year-old boy was put in there."

Faulk compared the box to a coffin and said the victim was so traumatized that he now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as his counselor testified to earlier.

"Because of the actions of Mr. Leslie, an 8-year-old boy has the symptoms of people in wars," Faulk told jurors.

She asked jurors to send a message to Bartow County by telling them the actions of the Leslies were not "reasonable." "The reality today is that you make a decision about (the victim's) life."

Jurors began deliberating shortly after 2 p.m. and will continue today.