An Alabama woman charged with killing her 14-year-old daughter at Sacred Heart Hospital by crushing her liver claims it happened on accident.
Jessica Bortle, 36, is charged with manslaughter and aggravated child abuse after the Office of the State Attorney charged her with 14-year-old Jasmine Singletary’s death on July 13, 2021. The girl suffered severe injuries when a table was pushed into her abdomen as she lay in a hospital bed.
While a prosecutor pointed to the severity of Jasmine’s injuries as evidence of Bortle’s abuse, Bortle told police the injuries were unintentional.
“I guess I done it without meaning to,” Bortle told Pensacola Police Department Detective Keith Tourney in a 2021 interview.
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Jasmine had originally been admitted to the hospital for a head injury related to an underlying medical condition.
Bortle told investigators that she and Jasmine were getting upset with one another after the daughter became angry about not having the correct coloring books. She then told investigators that she could not get the coloring pages her daughter asked for due to the late hour of day.
Then Bortle says she shoved the table connected to her daughter’s hospital bed with both hands, saying, “Do what you have to do.” She told investigators that Jamine said it hurt but continued to color. Then Jasmine asked Bortle to color with her, leading to Bortle leaning on the table, which was leaning into the child’s abdomen.
Jasmine then said Bortle leaning the table into her while coloring hurt, according to the mother’s interview, and Bortle said she then adjusted the table. Later, Bortle said her daughter was tired and rolled over to sleep, which she said was uncharacteristic of the 14-year-old.
Later in the trial, Dr. Deanna Oleske, the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, said a damaged or crushed liver can cause fatigue.
Bortle maintained that she did not intentionally hurt her daughter and became emotional while describing the situation. The mother also began to cry while prosecutor Nathaniel Sebastian showed the jury Jasmine’s autopsy photos.
“She’s my pride and joy,” Bortle said during the recorded interview. “I would never hurt her.”
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During the interview, Tourney asked Bortle if she knew accidents were not criminal and that if she accidentally fell or tripped on top of Jasmine, then it would not be a criminal act. Bortle told him she understood.
Bortle’s mother, Rose Mathis, was in the room during the incident and testified Thursday, saying she didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary and was playing games on her phone “the whole night.”
Sebastian told the jury in his opening argument he believes Bortle should be found guilty once the entirety of the evidence is presented, and he pointed out the severity of Jasmine’s injuries.
“It wasn’t until the autopsy was performed two days later on (July 15) that it was determined (Jasmine’s) ribs were fractured and her liver had been obliterated,” he told the jury. “The evidence you will hear over the next few days is that Jessica Bortle shoved a table into Jasmine Singletary with enough force to essentially pop Jasmine’s liver and cause her death.”
Bortle’s trial is scheduled to end Friday, when the jury is planned to deliberate on whether Bortle committed a criminal act when her daughter died.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Jessica Bortle says she accidentally crushed Jasmine Singletary’s liver