VALPARAISO | Sasha Sabates told jurors Wednesday morning she knew something was wrong when after a shower on March 8, 2012, she looked in on the crib of her 7-month-old son, Keagan Fishel.
Sabates described through tears how her son appeared pale, had vomited and was not in the position she had left him.
"I picked him up and he just flopped," she said. "It just felt like there was no hardness in the back of his head at all."
Her live-in boyfriend at the time, Benjamin Willis II, 25, of Liberty Township, is on trial this week in the boy's death. He is charged with Class A felony neglect of a dependent and battery and Class D felony battery.
Willis denies injuring Fishel, who died March 10, 2012, of blunt force trauma to the head after suffering multiple skull fractures and hemorrhages resulting from "violent and extremely forceful" action, according to court documents.
Sabates testified Willis was in bed when she showered on the day in question and was not anxious to respond to the emergency involving her son. She said Willis concerned her enough she did not leave her older son with him to ride in the ambulance with Fishel.
"I was not about to leave my son with that man because I had a feeling he did it," she said.
Willis offered alternative explanations at the time, including that a former girlfriend sneaked into the house, the boy fell or Sabates dropped him during a bath, documents state.
Sabates said Wednesday she did nothing to cause her son's death.
"Who would hurt a child?" she said.
"That was my baby, mine," she said before breaking down enough to force a break in her testimony.
During the break, Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford announced that an aunt related to the case had reportedly been distributing fliers at nearby businesses encouraging others to attend the trial in support of Fishel.
Bradford said someone would be in trouble if the activity continues because it could impact the trial. The appropriate time to take this type of stand on behalf of the child is at sentencing if there is a conviction, he said.