MASON CITY | Jeff Michel reached for a tissue and wiped away tears several times in Courtroom No. 1 at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse at around noon Wednesday.
That's because he was listening to a 911 call he made in Mason City on June 22, 2017, worrying about the well-being of his granddaughter.
Michel's testimony was part of the third day of the trial involving Jeremy Rose, who has been charged with child endangerment for events involving his then 5-month-old daughter in June 2017.
During the 911 call, Michel said his granddaughter had bruises on her face and had "shallow breathing."
"She won't even open her eyes," the victim's grandfather told the 911 dispatcher, adding a few minutes later: "The mother and father have been fighting for the last week. So he's saying what happened, but I don't know. I have my doubts, I'll tell you that right now."
Michel's testimony in court Thursday detailed the events leading up to June 22, 2017, when the 5-month-old girl was initially taken to Mercy Medical Center--North Iowa.
He told the jury his wife, Jen, first received call from Alyss Michel — his daughter and the victim's mother — about 9:35 p.m. on June 22, 2017.
When Michel arrived at the house, he went out to the front door. Jeremy Rose's younger brother, Jacob Rose, came around the corner of the structure at 1710 S. Coolidge Ave. He then tried to figure out what was happening, before deciding to call for an ambulance for help.
A main point of contention during his testimony was whether Michel had purposefully blocked Jeremy Rose and his mother, Roxanne Rose, from transporting the infant to the hospital.
Public defenders Letitia Turner and Parker Thirnbeck, argued Michel had done so, in order to call an ambulance. Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorneys Andrew Olson and Steven Tynan, however, contend Michel was not purposefully trying to block Jeremy and Roxanne Rose in, and was trying to get the best care possible for the victim.
Turner questioned Michel in cross-examination about whether it would been faster to just let Roxanne and Jeremy Rose take the baby to the hospital. Michel repeated multiple times he was unsure.
"I'm not a judge of time," he testified.
The reasoning for calling an ambulance, he said, was because Jeremy and Roxanne Rose did not have any car seats and that he wanted an ambulance — given its equipment — to come get his granddaughter.
What was clear, according to testimony both Jeff and Melissa Michel — Alyss Michel's sister — was that there was arguing between Jeremy Rose and Alyss Michel leading up to the incident on June 22.
Melissa Michel said she saw what she thought was a burn mark on the girl the day before.
"It was a perfect circle ... there was a scab on it," she told jurors.
The morning of June 22, she said she saw Jeremy Rose at the house on South Coolidge, and that he was angry.
Jeff Michel added to this story, saying his granddaughter was baptized less than a week before the incident. After the baptism, he testified that Jeremy Rose and Alyss Michel were arguing at the same house.
"Jeremy was upset, there was a lot of yelling going on," he testified. "I was trying to get everybody calmed down."
An important part of the trial appears to be whether Jeremy Rose was responsible for the many bruises over his daughter's body, and if a mark on her right arm was caused by a cigarette burn.
According to Jeff Michel's memory of June 22, Jeremy and Roxanne Rose said the infant's 2-year-old sister may have jumped on her, leading to the health emergency and a reason why the 5-month-old needed help breathing at Mercy.
Dr. Heidi Stoltenberg, who works in pediatrics at Mercy, testified she was one of the first doctors to see the baby when she arrived at the hospital on June 22.
During Tynan's questioning of her, she indicated several examples of possible bruising in pictures taken at the hospital. She described the 5-month-old as pale and having difficulty breathing.
Based on her injuries, she was transported to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
"I don't know why she came in the way she came in," Stoltenberg testified. "Because of how sick she was when she came in, I knew she might need some higher level of care."
Tynan asked if her injuries could be signs of child abuse. Stoltenberg said she did not know for certain, but did report her findings to law enforcement at the hospital. Rose's defense attorneys had no questions for her during cross-examination.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Friday.