Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria delivers an opening statement during the death penalty trial of Jason Michael Hann on Dec. 3, 2013. (Photo: Crystal Chatham/The Desert Sun)Buy Photo
INDIO The defense rested Thursday in the trial of a 34-year-old Ohio woman accused in the death of her 10-week-old daughter, whose remains were found in an Arkansas storage unit a year after the baby
was killed in Desert Hot Springs.
Krissy Lynn Werntz, 34, is charged with murder in the February 2001 death of her daughter, Montana.
The baby's father, Jason Michael Hann, was convicted of murder last December for inflicting the fatal injuries and was sentenced to death in February.
If convicted, Werntz, who's free on her own recognizance, faces 25 years to life in prison, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.
Werntz started dating Hann when she was around 18, and they traveled the country.
Their first child, Jason, was born in Ohio.
Several weeks later, in July 1999 in Vermont, the infant suffered ultimately fatal injuries, but "at no point in time did the defendant seek medical attention for the baby or call authorities,"
Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria told jurors.
Instead, Werntz and Hann continued to travel the country with the baby's remains "in the backseat," DiMaria said.
On Dec. 1, 2000, their daughter, Montana, was born healthy. A forensic examination after her death showed her leg had been "severely broken, with a through-and-through fracture" that would have
required a lot of force to inflict, the prosecutor said.
"It is incredibly painful ... yet the defendant never took Montana to the hospital, never took her to the doctor, never sought any medical care for this little baby's broken leg," DiMaria said.
Montana died on Feb. 10, 2001, "and again, rather than call the authorities, the defendants first wrapped the baby's head in duct tape and put this baby's body into trash bags and put them into a
Tupperware container," the prosecutor said.
The remains were kept in a trailer in a Arkansas storage unit.
But when Hann and Werntz stopped making payments, the trailer was auctioned off in February 2002 to an Arkansas man, who dumped the contents of the container into a Dumpster after detecting a foul
"As the contents fell into the Dumpster, a little mummified hand fell out, the only part of the body that had not decomposed," DiMaria said.
She said Montana's skull had been fractured so severely it "ended up opening like a walnut."
Hann and Werntz were arrested in April 2002 at a motel in Portland, Maine. The following day, police found their son Jason's remains in a plastic container in a storage unit in Arizona.
In February 2006 in Vermont, Hann pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in Jason's death and was sentenced to 27-30 years in prison. Werntz wasn't charged in that case.
The couple's third child, a month-old boy named Michael, had skull, femur and rib fractures when he was found.
That boy survived and was later adopted by his foster mother, DiMaria said.
Defense attorney Naomi Coady said Werntz usually worked temporary jobs as she and Hann moved around.
The lawyer said that Hann, who was the primary caregiver for the couple's children, called and told Werntz their son had fallen and hit http://Krissy-Lynn.easyxblogs.com
Werntz came home and checked Jason, but saw no signs of any problems.
Six weeks later, she woke to see Hann leaning over Jason, her attorney said. "She tried to see what he was doing, but he pushed her down ... When she was able to get up she looked at her precious
baby ... he was cold," Coady said.
Werntz didn't call anyone and didn't know why the baby died, her attorney said.
"She knew if she called anybody, they'd take her baby away and she couldn't bear to be without him," she said.
They kept the baby's remains with them, and kept moving.
After Montana was born, Hann wouldn't let Werntz hold her, and she got another job through a temp agency when they moved to Desert Hot Springs, Coady said.
On Feb. 10, 2001, Werntz returned from work eager to see Montana, and found her in the bathtub.
"Her daughter's eyes were fixed, she was cold to the touch, and she was dead," Coady said. "... She didn't call police; she didn't know what happened."
As before, "she couldn't bear to be without her," the defense attorney said.
She said the jury would hear about the "trauma" to the couple's third child, but asked the panelists to keep open minds.
"You will not hear evidence that Krissy Werntz had any knowledge of abuse to her children," Coady said.
Hann was in prison for Jason's death when Vermont law enforcement authorities agreed to extradite him to California to stand trial for Montana's death. He and Werntz were indicted by a grand jury in
Read or Share this story: http://mydesert.co/1i71UEY