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Laurie Barry details escalating behavior, denies killing 13-year-old girl during two hour testimony

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Laurie Barry

Laurie Barry testifying on May 5. 

MINERAL POINT (WKOW) — An Iowa County woman on trial for reckless homicide in the death of a 13-year-old child she was caring for took the witness stand Thursday morning. 

Laurie Barry was the defense's first witness on Thursday, and she testified for nearly two hours. Laurie, along with her daughter Alexis Barry, are on trial for the reckless homicide of Selah Kaden in 2018 at their home in Mineral Point. 

Laurie Barry said she and her family took Selah into their care in April, while still moving into their home, as Selah's adoptive parents, Lisa and David Kaden prepared for their youngest daughter to have heart surgery. Despite knowing Selah had behavioral issues, Laurie said she and her family felt comfortable taking the teen in. 

Barry said Selah's attention seeking behavior began quickly, even while David Kaden was still with Selah in Wisconsin. Despite periodic escalations in behavior, Barry said she felt capable of disciplining Selah and was not angry with her. 

A significant escalation took place around the time of Lisa Kaden's birthday, when Selah wasn't immediately able to get ahold of her mom. This is where Barry said Selah started "fake fainting," falling in way Barry described as "almost cartoonish." 

Barry said on the day Selah died she fake fainted, and her feet slipped, causing her to hit her head. 

"She popped right up, just getting warmed up," Barry said. "And she was rubbing her head, and she said 'ow that, that'll really hurt.'" 

Barry said after the incident, Selah said "I shouldn't do that anymore," but did it again a little later, except she didn't stand right back up. She stayed down long enough it became a concern. Barry contacted Lisa Kaden to check if this was escalating behavior and see what she should do.

Barry said Kaden didn't feel like they needed to contact EMS, so Barry continued to monitor Selah. She got emotional explaining she tried to comfort and communicate to Selah.

"I'm saying things like, you know Selah, what's going on. This, I need something. This isn't helping you or us, because if you don't talk to me and tell me what you need I can't give it to you," Barry testified. 

Eventually, Barry called her husband and asked him to come home, because she didn't know what to do. Right before Jesse Barry came home, she noticed Selah's condition changed. 

"And the color just receded from her face... It's like it receded into her face. And I go 'God she's in trouble.'" 

Soon EMS was contacted, even though Barry claims Kaden said over the phone she thought contacting first responders wasn't necessary. She learned at the hospital Selah died. 

When asked directly if she killed, beat, restrained, strangled or suffocated Selah, Barry said "no" or "never." 

Barry said she was "extremely" surprised at the condition of Selah's body after she died and told the court she's worked with detectives to try and understand what happened. Barry denied ever seeing an obvious pattern of injuries on the child until after the teenager's death.

"You also told Dr. Sharpson in the E.R. Selah's legs had become stiff around two o'clock," Iowa County District Attorney Matthew Allen said to Barry during cross examination. "I heard him say that," Barry said. "I don't remember."

Alexis Barry testified she helped her mother monitor the teenager for several hours as the girl lay on the floor and then allowed her mother to place Selah in her lap. Barry testified they did not harm the girl.

"Did you hold Selah Kaden down so your mother could suffocate her?" Barry's attorney, Chris Van Wagner asked. "No," Barry replied.

Like her mother, Barry testified Selah had carried out several fake, fainting spells during her stay with the family. Both David and Lisa Kaden previously testified while their daughter had trauma-related behavioral issues, she had never faked a fainting with them.

Van Wagner asked Barry if she holds animosity toward the Kaden's, as she stands accused of homicide.

"Goodness no," Barry testified. "They lost their baby girl."

The Barrys' trial began on Monday and is set to conclude by May 13. 

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