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Whitley Co. criminal trial in child death closed to parents of victim due to global pandemic

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The Whitley County Courthouse is hosting the criminal trial for Courtney Kincaid, accused in the death of a child she was caring for. The parents of the little girl have not been allowed in the courtroom because of COVID-19.

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WPTA21) - The effects of the novel coronavirus threat can be seen this week in a Whitley County court case where a babysitter is on trial over the death of a little girl under her care.

The trial of 30-year old Courtney Kincaid is happening inside the Whitley County Courthouse, but to counter the possibility of the spread of COVID-19, only the judge, jurors, the attorneys, the witnesses and the defendant are allowed in the courtroom.

Kincaid is charged with three serious felonies, including aggravated battery and neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

11-month old Emma Grace Leeman died in April 2018 after doctors say the child suffered head trauma consistent with what you might see in a bad motor vehicle crash.

Kincaid originally told police she didn't know how the injuries happened, but after investigators challenged her, saying her story didn't add up, they claim she changed her account several times, eventually saying she dropped the baby on her head on a concrete patio.

Because no spectators are allowed in to watch the testimony in person, the victim's parents, family and friends have gathered in a clubhouse in Columbia City to watch the proceedings via a livestream.

The little girl's dad says the ups and downs in the investigation have been tough to cope with.

"Just when we thought we may have a story we could hang our hat on finally, kind of start the grieving process all over again, knowing what happened, the story would change again a few months later and start it all over again," said Nick Leeman.

"I think there's a sort of organic feel when you have the jury in the room with the victim's parents and family and supporters and you hear the gasps or you hear the emotion coming from the gallery and they (the jurors) don't have the benefit of understanding what we're actually feeling right now," said Sherry Leeman, the child's mother.

A verdict is expected by Friday.

If Kincaid is convicted on all charges, we're told she is looking at a 20-year prison sentence at minimum, but the punishment could be more severe.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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