An Anderson County jury was set to resume deliberations this morning in the trial of a 59-year-old Elkhart woman accused of intentionally breaking a toddler's arm two years ago at a local day care center.

Sally Vincent, 59, of Elkhart is charged with the felony offense of injury to a child in relation to a May 2003 incident during which a 2-year-old girl suffered a broken arm at the now-defunct Kaptain Kidz day care center in Palestine.

The state has alleged Vincent deliberately twisted the toddler's left arm resulting in a "spiral" fracture, while the defendant testified Wednesday that the child sustained the injury as a result of a collision with two other children.

After hearing closing arguments, the 12- person jury deliberated for approximately nine hours Thursday before 349th State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher recessed the case around 11:30 p.m.

The jury was set to resume deliberations at 10:30 a.m. today at the Anderson County Courthouse.

If the jury finds Vincent guilty of intentionally causing the child's injury, she could face up to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Two lesser included offenses — which can only be considered if the jury finds the defendant not guilty of the more serious offense— carry a maximum punishment of two years in a state jail facility.

During the defendant's closing argument, defense attorney Melvin Whitaker asked the jury to find Vincent “not guilty” of all charges, questioning several elements of the state's case.

A former co-worker of Vincent's testified this week that she had previously observed a similar, arm-twisting event involving the defendant and another child at Kaptain Kidz. The infraction, however, was not reported, according to the woman’s testimony.

“If that had been a real event...that was a clear violation of the rules and regulations,” Whitaker pointed out.

Whitaker also said the state’s position must be that Vincent “turns into either Jekyll or Hyde depending on what day it is and how she feels.

“The state is asking you to believe this mother and grandmother who is sitting over there...would take a little girl’s arm and twist it like that until it breaks,” Whitaker said in his closing argument.

Whitaker also asked the jury to strongly consider the testimony of Vincent’s fellow church-goers who portrayed the defendant as a loving, Christian woman who taught Sunday school and enjoyed being around children.

Vincent’s niece, Gina Bunn, a high-ranking assistant attorney general residing in Austin, told the jury her aunt was “incapable” of committing the alleged offense.

The state represented by Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe and assistant district attorney Stanley Sokolowski, however, painted a different picture of Vincent.

In the state’s closing argument, Sokolowski reminded the jury that Vincent had been accused of other instances of inappropriate discipline of children — some of which occurred during a previous job at Dayspring Child Development Center.

“This woman must be the unluckiest woman on the face of the earth,” Sokolowski said in reference to the multiple complaints. “I wouldn't want to stand next to her in a thunderstorm.”

Lowe asked “for justice” for the alleged victim.

“She (Vincent) may be a fine family person, she might be the best member of that church and you may even like her,” Lowe said in his closing argument, “but she needs to be held accountable for what she did to (young girl's name).”

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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