“He was one of the happiest little babies to be around,” she said. “He’s not a happy little baby any more.
“He fusses a lot when people try to hold him,” she added. “He’s just not the same boy.”
Hartke said the injury has had a negative impact on Nathan’s family. She said Laura had to quit her job to take care of Nathan, and that Donnie had to step up his work schedule to make up the lost income. She added that Nathan’s older brother Noah “fights for attention” in the wake of all the care his little brother needs.
Also testifying during the morning court session was Special Agent Holly Finley of the Illinois State Police, who interviewed Niemerg shortly after Nathan was injured. The packed courtroom sat through a 51-minute videotaped interview with Niemerg, Finley and Special Agent Albert Gallatin. During that interview, Niemerg admitted “slamming” Nathan into a playpen, causing him to hit his head on a metal toolbox stored behind the playpen.
“I can’t believe I did that,” Niemerg told the investigators. “I’m such a bad mom — a bad babysitter.”
Kibler said after the hearing he thought the key piece of evidence was a video by investigator Ron Kilman in which Mrs. Dill showed the extensive care that Nathan required on a daily basis.
“Words can only express so much, but it was important to use for the judge to be able to see something,” Kibler said.
Milner said he planned to file a motion in an effort to get Koester to reconsider her decision.