DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Opening statements were presented Monday in the murder trial of former Dayton pastor 38-year-old Torace Weaver, who is accused of killing his 2-year-old foster child Stanley Thomas in November 2015.
Weaver is facing 8 counts, including, murder, endangering children and reckless homicide. The defense argues the toddler’s death was an accident, but the prosecution says otherwise.
“He was bruised,” Montgomery County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Madzey said. “He was burned. His skull was fractured and he was dead.”
Madzey laid out her case to jurors Monday in opening statements.
She argues Weaver knowingly caused harm to 2-year-old Stanley Thomas, resulting in his death.
The toddler died on November 18, 2015 after spending the afternoon with Weaver at King of Glory Ministries Church in Dayton, where Weaver was a pastor at the time.
“Torace Weaver called 911 to report that Stanley had fallen in the fellowship hall,” Madzey said. “And had stopped breathing.”
Weaver’s attorney says his client was too scared to tell police at the time what had really happened. They say Stanley died after playing what they call ‘ the superman game’.
“That little boy hit his head on that wall that you saw with the corner,” Defense attorney Anthony VanNoy said. “And he fell down and he could not revive him. He called for help.”
Prosecutors say they don’t buy it, and claim he changed his story to try to explain away the child’s injuries.
The coroner’s office counted more than 20 bruises on Stanley’s face, head and neck. The cause of death was ruled as catastrophic blunt force trauma. Forensic Pathologist Dr. Susan Allen performed the autopsy.
Lawyer: “What is the manner of his death?”
Lawyer: “And a homicide means what?”
Allen: “Death at the hands of another.”
Lawyer: “In other words, did Stanley have any other natural diseases or any other way he could have died that you noted?”
The defendant’s wife, Shureka Weaver, is also facing one count of child endangerment.
Throughout the course of the trial, we’ll hear police interviews between investigators and Torace Weaver and his wife Shureka shortly after Stanley’s death.
The trial resumes Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.