The boy’s second grade teacher testified that in February 2010 she put her arm around his shoulders and he pulled away as if he were in pain. After talking to him about what happened, she sent him to the school nurse. The nurse testified that Tramelle told her 'Dad hit me with a stick.” Per South Bend Community School Corporation policy, the school social worker reported the incident to the Department of Child Services.
A DCS caseworker apparently visited the Sturgis home on West Washington Street that evening. A Madison Primary volunteer and secretary testified an angry Terry Sturgis visited the school the next day.
"He said, 'I don't appreciate anyone sending [expletive] to my house. What goes on there stays there,' recalled former volunteer Ramonita Bennett.
“He was very angry, his demeanor was very scary, he was loud, his language was just awful," said Madison secretary Sandra Matuszak. "We had kids coming and going out the office. They were scared."
Sturgis had to be escorted out of the building that day, Matuszak testified, but returned a few minutes later and pulled his kids out of class for the rest of the day.
During testimony from the teacher, school nurse, volunteer and secretary Sturgis appeared to become agitated, a bit upset, put his head in his hands and shook his head from side-to-side as if he disagreed with what was being said. It’s the first time he’s shown noticeable emotion during the trial.
Jurors also heard from the emergency room doctor who was working at Memorial Hospital Nov. 4 – the morning an ambulance brought Tramelle in. He testified hospital staff worked on the boy for 15 minutes, saying Tramelle was not breathing and cool to the touch when he first arrived at the hospital.
“I don’t mean to overstate, but it looked to me like he had been tortured,” said ER doctor David Halperin.
Defense attorney Jeff Kimmel objected to that statement and the judge asked the jury to disregard it when weighing their verdict.
Halperin also said when he approached Terry Sturgis to tell him Tramelle was dead, the 35-year-old “…was somewhat hostile in his demeanor."
A DNA expert also testified Monday.
Sharon Pollock, from the Indiana State Police Forensics Laboratory, explained to the jury that the wooden dowel rod the prosecution claims Sturgis used to beat two of his children had a match for Terry Sturgis’ DNA and DNA from three other people she could not identify with certainty on the other end.
She could not definitively identify Tramelle’s DNA on any of the evidence.
The case is expected to go to the jury Tuesday afternoon or first thing Wednesday.