Victim’s dad takes stand during Fletcher trial


By Meladi Brewer

GREENVILLE — The state called three witnesses on the second day of the Ashlee Fletcher trial. Judge Travis L. Fliehman presided.

The first witness was the diabetes educator from Dayton Children’s Hospital who had been a part of the education process since the child victim had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in January 2016. The victim’s father testified his son had been taking a shower when he said he didn’t feel good. The father ended up catching the pale, incoherent boy and took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed.

The female educator testified that when someone with diabetes goes into a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) they begin vomiting, become lethargic, and have rapid breathing like “a fish gasping for breath from their gills.” It was testified to being one of the scariest things to witness, and it is “a symptom you never forget.”

“When children come in this critically ill, we know two things. We know their diabetes care has fallen off, but also when the child goes into DKA, our bodies are built to survive,” the female clinical social worker said.

She continued to explain how there are lots of warning signs that a child will experience before going into cardiac arrest. It starts off where the patient will become overly thirsty and pee a lot because the body senses the ketones are building up, and it will try to flush them out. When drinking does not work, it will try to flush them out another way.

“That’s usually the first indicator, and when that doesn’t work, the next stage children will start vomiting constantly,” the social worker said.

The final stage is the Kussmaul breathing. If the diabetes progresses past this point without proper treatment, the patient can experience what is commonly known as a diabetic coma.

“Particularly with DKA, we know that this is preventable. To see kids with DKA, when we see them, we know care has fallen off,” the female clinical social worker said.

During training, there were three situations where Fletcher had been instructed to call the hospital. First she had been required to call daily when they initially started her son’s treatment, so the hospital and nurses could see if proper care was being administered and to relieve stress regarding the education process.

In the second step, they were advised to call the hospital for any reason regarding the child becoming sick. They were to check the child’s sugar levels, check his ketones, and to call the hospital regardless. The hospital’s clinical social worker said any illness must be assumed to be related to diabetes.

“When we teach, we stress that vomiting with a child with diabetes has to be assumed it is always the diabetes. We joke that if a patient with diabetes gets hit by a bus and they begin vomiting, you have to assume the vomiting is because of diabetes not by being hit by the bus,” the female social worker said.

She explained that the custodial parents, in this case Fletcher, would have been instructed to call the hospital if the child is vomiting, and they will assist on proper dosage. If need be, they will also instruct for the parent to bring the child in if it is warranted.

The father of the victim testified that the young male had been vomiting repeatedly, and no call had been made to the hospital. He ended up bringing his son from his house to Fletcher at work, and he begged her to take him to the hospital when she said it was just a stomach bug. In the parking lot, the dad begged Fletcher to take him, as the victim wanted to go.

“Promise me if it gets any worse, you’ll take him to the hospital,” dad said.

It was a couple days later that the child was pronounced brain dead before leaving Greenville for the hospital, and a little while after that he was officially pronounced dead and taken off life support at the hospital.

The victim’s dad relayed he was at the hospital and seeing his son on the gurney was hard. He said he had a hard time believing his son wasn’t going to wake up until he felt his son’s heart not beating anymore.

He was asked to relay his training when his son had first been diagnosed and proper procedure that went with it.

“The main thing I remembered from training was if he doesn’t get this, he is going to die. If he gets too much of this, he’s going to die. If you mess up, something is going to happen to him, so I was always crazy about everything,” dad said.

He said he went as far as getting upset if someone else made his son’s plate at dinner because he knew how many carbs were in each food group, so he would perfectly measure it out to make sure his son was abiding by what he had to do. He understood the food aspect so much so he knew what his son could eat at McDonald’s and the amount of insulin it would take to counter the meal.

Defense Attorney David Rohrer questioned dad about leaving his son with his untrained girlfriend, and dad said he is “overzealous,” but he trusted her with his own life “which is saying a lot.” He said she knew what to do having watched him, listened to him, and having her mother, who is a trained nurse, come over and help as well. He was confident in her abilities to help take care of his diabetic son.

When asked why he called to ask Fletcher’s permission to take his son to the hospital instead of just taking him, he said it was a mix of her and CPS (Child Protective Services) telling him he was not allowed because he is not the custodial parent. He testified he was advised that bringing his son to the hospital without legal rights to him was “inducing panic” and could lead to his child being taken away from him.

“I can’t cause ripples,” dad said. “If you cause ripples anymore, I’ll take him, and I lived by that fear for a long time.”

He said you may not believe a 300 pound man could fall before a 110 pound woman, but when she is holding that kind of power, you fall pretty quickly. He testified he tried to gain custody of his son but was told “unless you have money or you all were married, you will never gain custody as a single father in Ohio.”

He had spent years collecting documentation, written statements from his son, text messages, etc. to prove Fletcher to be an unfit mother in the hopes of gaining custody of his child, but his time had run out.

“So basically I had to sit back and wait; so I did,” dad said. “Right when I got to the point that I think I would have got custody no problem, we lost him.”

Dad stressed to the court what Fletcher had advised him had happened the night after he dropped his son off to her claiming she told him two different stories.

“I heard two different stories. She told me that by the time they had gotten home he was fine. He and her sat up all night and talked and joked,” dad said.

Fletcher advised him in this narrative they went to bed, and when she got up the next morning they were heading to the hospital. He said he knew this was a lie because his son doesn’t just sit and talk.

“If he had been awake, he would have been on that Xbox,” dad said.

It was also testified by the clinical social worker that what they know from the progression of DKA, the victim would not have “snapped back” from his level without medical intervention. Dad also said he was also given another story from Fletcher regarding the events of that night.

This story Fletcher said the child victim had “been puking so much and so bad” that she couldn’t stand the smell and had to go outside to eat.

“She sat on the porch and smoked her cigarettes,” dad said. “At one point a friend of hers had shown up, and she mentioned he should go inside and say hi to her son because he’s not feeling very good.”

Dad said with the story he got, the friend, identified as Dean Baker, refused to go into the house. It was also previously testified by the clinical social worker that Fletcher had advised her in the hospital she was terrified that people were going to blame her for what had happened to her son.

“Mom was very fearful that they would blame her and that she would be held responsible,” the clinical social worker said.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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