When she was 3-years-old, sometimes Millie Pace didn’t get dressed fast enough for her foster mother. One time, she fell asleep while riding in the car.
“I would get a spanking,” Millie, now 7, testified Friday morning in a Henry County courtroom.
The murder trial continued for Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, former foster parents who took in Millie and her younger sister, Laila Marie Daniel, in July 2015.
Millie testified that Laila would also get spankings with a hand or a belt. When Laila died on Nov. 17, 2015, the 2-year-old had bruises from head to toe.
The spankings took place in Jennifer Rosenbaum’s bedroom, Millie said, and sometimes the girls had to take off their clothes.
“It hurt,” Millie told the court.
But there were also some happy times for the sisters during the four months they were in the Rosenbaums’ home.
Defense attorney Corinne Mull asked Millie to describe several family photos, including trips to the zoo, a fall festival and her birthday party.
“You look very happy there, right?” Mull asked the child.
“Yes,” Millie said.
Mull also showed pictures of the sisters’ bedroom in the Rosenbaum home, which had bunk beds, a play kitchen set and a television.
On Nov. 17, 2015, Jennifer Rosenbaum called 911 to report that Laila choked while eating a chicken nugget. Rosenbaum said she used the Heimlich maneuver and then CPR on Laila, who later died.
But paramedics noted bruising all over Laila’s body. An autopsy revealed the child suffered a blow to her abdomen that ruptured her pancreas. She also had other internal injuries and broken bones suffered over time, according to GBI medical examiners. There was no evidence she had choked, the autopsy revealed.
Two weeks after Laila’s death, the Rosenbaums were arrested and charged.
Jennifer Rosenbaum faces malice and felony murder charges, as well as child cruelty, aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges.
Joseph Rosenbaum is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly leaving Laila in his wife’s care when he knew she was abusing the child.
Both have pleaded not guilty and are out on bond.
The foster mother Millie now lives with, Amanda Harrill, also testified Friday. Millie is in therapy but doesn’t like to talk about her time with the Rosenbaums, Harrill said.
“She was forced to eat mashed potatoes until she vomited, and then was forced to eat the vomit,” Harrill said.
Before Laila and Millie went to live with the Rosenbaums, another foster mother told the Department of Family and Children Services that she suspected the husband and wife were abusive, she testified Friday afternoon.
Patricia Lambert said the sisters lived in her home for about a month in June 2014. But on the weekends, the Rosenbaums had weekend visits with the girls. When Laila and Millie returned to her home, Lambert noticed bruises on them. After one visit, Laila had bruises under her eyes, Lambert said.
When Laila died, Lambert attended the funeral home visitation. But she testified that she hardly recognized the little girl, whom she described as a happy child who loved to eat, especially sweets.
“She was a completely different baby in that box,” Lambert said.
As for Millie, she looked thinner and frail and had less hair, Lambert told the court. Millie later returned to live with Lambert a second time.
“Her back was so covered in black and blue bruises,” Lambert said of the day she picked up Millie. “I took her straight to the doctor’s office.”
Millie told Lambert that Joseph Rosenbaum had hit her on her back, causing the bruises.
And Lambert noticed a change in Millie following Laila’s death. “Millie was always sad,” Lambert testified. “All she asked for was her sister.”
The trial is expected to resume Monday and is expected to last about three more weeks.