SOUTH BEND – A forensic pathologist told a St. Joseph County jury it’s “essentially impossible” to know how long two New Carlisle boys were trapped in the trunk of their mother’s car before they became overheated.
A jury listened to heartbreaking details Tuesday in day two of Jacqueline Wilk’s trial. She’s accused of neglecting her two children.
Jacqueline Wilk found her 2- and 4-year-old sons in her car trunk in her driveway in june 2011. Both boys died.
Detectives testified the outdoor temperature was about 84 degrees when they were found just before 3 p.m. on that hot June day in 2011, but it's not clear how hot the car was or how long it took for hyperthermia to set in on the boys.
The pathologist who performed autopsies on both little boys said Hollywood has a way of portraying people who do his job as being able to scientifically answer every question that comes up in a case, but this one is impossible to answer because there are so many factors, including the outdoor temperature, where the vehicle is parked, the color of paint and what else may have been in the trunk at the time.
He said it’s possible for the boys to have been in the trunk anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour.
The jury heard a lot of testimony Tuesday from police officers and at times it was tough to listen.
The first responding police officer to the home in New Carlisle told jurors he got there within one minute of the 911 dispatch.
"The 4-year-old, he was gasping, trying to get air," said New Carlisle officer Brian Thompson on the witness stand. "I grabbed his head and tried to do a chin lift, head tilt, so he could get more air."
Thompson also said the child's head felt "very hot," and he blew air across it, trying to cool him down.
In cross examination, the defense attorney asked that officer if he overheard any of Jacqueline Wilk's cell phone conversations after he arrived on the scene.
"She did make the statement that she lost track of the babies and was looking for them for approximately one hour before discovering them in the trunk," Thompson replied.
Metro Homicide detective Anthony Bontrager testified about his two conversations with Wilk later that day at the hospital.
"Did the defendant provide some information about what she remembered doing around the time of the incident?" asked the prosecuting attorney.
"I believe she was studying, possibly reading a book," said Detective Bontrager.
"Was there information about possibly falling asleep?" the prosecutor asked.
"I believe so," Bontrager replied.
A Metro Homicide technician told the jury he spent hours "teching" the House for evidence. Part of that included searching the home for evidence of neglect. He testified he didn't find evidence that the children weren't being cared for but did see something that seemed "out of place."
"In the kitchen, I saw a stool had been pushed right next to the countertop, and right next to that was sticky buns, and the cabinet was open," said Detective Tom Cameron. "It was my opinion the children had accessed the cabinet on their own by climbing up on the counter to get to the pantry."
The detectives also testified they looked for a school book or any type of evidence in the home to back up Wilk's story that she had been studying downstairs around the time the boys became trapped in her car trunk, but they never found it.