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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Jurors listen to first day of testimony with the trial having a few hiccups along the way

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JANUARY 30, 2024 - Jury trials always have a life of their own and in the first day of the jury trial of Cheynne Hill, Bedford, Indiana was no exception.

Photo: Maple Ridge Apartments were 18th month old Ellie Plummer lived

However ,Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge John Plummer III and the experienced Prosecutor Attorneys Joshua Scherchel and Sarah Cummings and Defense Attorney Bob Hamilton kept the trial moving right along. Despite the various situations that arose during the trial today, all parties were able to finish right on time while finishing just before 3:00 pm Tuesday afternoon.

This morning started off with Juror #1 being questioned whether she could continue with the trial after her husband was in the emergency department all night long with the stomach flu. Questioned by Judge Plummer the juror stated she could continue being on the jury without an issue. Both attorneys agreed to leave Juror #1 on and the jury was then sworn in and given jury instructions.

Twelve jurors and three alternates were selected to hear testimony in the trial that is expected to last until at least Friday.

Deputy Prosecutor Josh Scherschel gave his opening statement and listed the five elements that he will prove at the conclusion of the trial and convicting Cheyenne Hill with Child Neglect resulting in death with the victim less than the age of 14.

Child Neglect is a Level 1 felony if it consists of endangerment, abandonment, cruel confinement, or deprivation of necessary support by a person at least 18 years of age and: it results in the death or catastrophic injury of a dependent who is less than 14 years of age; or it results in the death or catastrophic injury of a dependent of any age who has a mental or physical disability.

A Level 1 felony carries a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison and a $10,000 fine in Indiana law.

Cheyenne's attorney Bob Hamilton in his opening statement told the jurors that Cheyenne Hill had a difficult time through high school, with Hill attending four high schools her Senior year had 5 miscarriages and truly Ellie was a miracle baby.

Attorney Hamilton pointing out to the jurors that no one has been charged with the causing the actual death of 18 month Ellie. Hamilton asked the jurors to keep an open mind and that Hill was not responsible for Ellie's death.

Throughout the morning, Detective Jim Slone, and Michael Ramos, from the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department Detectives providing testimony on how they conducted their investigation and their questioning of Hill and those living at Maple Ridge Apartments.

Approximately 15-20 people questioned from approximately 16 apartments from Maple Ridge Apartments during the death investigation of Ellie Plummer.

Testimony resumed at 1:00 pm when Judge Plummer told the courtroom at the start of the afternoon session that the Lawrence County IT person Scott Nikirk shut off the internet to the Superior Court I.

This was despite being ordered not to do it, about 15 minutes prior to going to lunch Tuesday morning. According to Judge Plummer III there was a possible security breach and had to done immediately. There were no issues with the computer systems during the afternoon court session.

Jurors were able to look through several photos of a futon bed and dresser that Ellie may have fallen from and might have hit her head. Jurors looked at the photos of Ellie taken the day Eillie was in the emergency room at IU Health Hospital in Bedford by the Department of Children Services; before being airlifted to Riley's Children Hospital in Indianapolis by helicopter.

Some of the photos showing that Ellie's hair had fallen out, the child had bruising to her face and dents on the top of Ellie's head.

During the afternoon session, Brett Lawrence, Department Children Services, testimony stated that he had a previous encounter with Hill 7 months prior and that on November 21, 2022 that he received a report that Ellie had been injured and Cheyenne Hill was suspected as causing the injury.

Cheyenne Hill refused to meet Lawrence at the Maple Ridge Apartments so the meeting took place in the parking lot of Priceless IGA on Fifth Street.

On a brief examination of Ellie her long hair had fallen out, Ellie had dark circles under her eyes, bruising her right cheek, and and Lawrence asked Cheyenne to take Ellie out of her car seat.

During testimony of the the DCS worker a female family member in the courtroom started making gestures and facial reactions which Judge Plummer quickly admonished the person.

" If you cannot refrain from those reactions, I will remove you from the courtroom," The female replied "I'm sorry and said Ok,"

Later a night shift supervisor and co- workers from Priceless IGA testified their interactions with Hill during the time she worked at Priceless IGA in the two weeks she was employed there.

According to statements made to co-workers Cheyenne told some of them her child had Lupus, to other people she told them her child had brain tumor.

In addition, Cheyenne told the co-workers the day Ellie was taken to the hospital that Ellie was not waking up.

Questions remain why Cheynne did not take Ellie to a doctor or seek medical treatment from November 1 ,2022 to November 23, 2022.

Police have not ruled out other people who might have been in the care and control of Ellie and who helped watch Ellie while Cheyenne was at work at Priceless IGA who might have been responsible for her death.

Testimony will resume on Wednesday morning at 8:30 am.

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Coming March 7, 2024 to the Bedford, Indiana location

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