WATERLOO, Iowa --- A Nebraska woman recounted how she attempted to resuscitate a 17-month-old boy after he was found lifeless in her friend's Cedar Falls motel room.
"He was cold, kind of clammy. I got no response. He felt different, not like a normal child," Kimberly Matchett told jurors Thursday as trial started for Daniel John "D.J." Reddout.
Reddout, 24, is charged with first-degree murder, child endangerment causing death and child endangerment multiple acts in the 2011 death of his son, Kaleb.
Prosecutors said Reddout killed his son when he "choked out" the boy to get him to sleep while visiting friends at the motel room on April 4, 2011. A medical examiner ruled the boy had died of asphyxiation, according to Assistant County Attorney Brook Jacobsen.
Reddout has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but his defense team declined to outline their case during opening statements.
Matchett and friend Dana Hacker told jurors that Kaleb appeared to be a normal toddler earlier that day, playing with pit bull puppies in the room at Midway Studios on University Avenue, but he resisted nap time that afternoon.
His mother, Stephanie Burt, was unable to get him to sleep on a bed in the room, so the parents arranged a sleeping area in a corner behind the door with a jacket and a comforter.
Burt asked Reddout to help put the boy to sleep before she left for college classes, witnesses said. Reddout laid down next to him, according to one witness, sat with him, according to another, until he was quiet.
"He was frustrated. He wanted his son to go to sleep," Matchett said. "He hollered at him a couple times.
About two hours later, they became concerned, and Reddout checked on Kaleb.
"He kind of starts freaking out. He grabs him like a rag doll. He has one arm and one leg and he's just dangling him away from his body, and he walk around the corner, and he's hollering 'why, why.' Little Kaleb has yellow skin with pink blotches all over his whole body," Matchett said.
She called 911, and emergency dispatchers talked her through CPR.
Paramedic Jeff Bond arrived on the scene a short time later. Bond told jurors he knew the prospects weren't good after finding Kaleb cold to the touch and noticing lividity, where blood had inside the child's back.
"Normally, we don't get people back from cardiac arrest," Bond said. He said he continued attempts to revive him anyway
"Part of being a paramedic is being optimistic and doing the best you can and trying as much as you can to make a difference," Bond said.
Authorities said Kaleb was officially pronounced dead at the hospital.
Jacobsen said Reddout first denied doing anything more than patting the child but later admitted he used a special method to get him to sleep.
"Pressure on the child's back, his elbow on Kaleb's back, his body weight pressing down on him, pressure to the child's jaw, this trick he learned where he puts his hand beneath his jaw, pulls up on his head forcing to close his mouth," Jacobsen said.
He said Reddout demonstrated the technique on a doll during a police interview, telling investigators he was always careful about the amount of pressure because he didn't want to break the child's neck.
"You will hear medical testimony that this is not sleep. This is unconscious, at best. And on this particular day, this was death," Jacobsen said.