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Witness tells of loud bangs, child's screams in Waite's apartment building

2013-11-13T12:47:00Z 2013-12-12T14:15:35Z Witness tells of loud bangs, child's screams in Waite's apartment buildingDON LEHMAN -- dlehman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
November 13, 2013 12:47 pm  • 

Editor's Note: A date was corrected as to when the child was seen apparently healthy at a grocery store.

QUEENSBURY -- A neighbor of murder suspect Gary Waite told a Warren County jury Wednesday that he heard seven or eight loud "bangs" in an apartment in Waite's building followed by a child's cries and screams the day that Waite's young son was gravely injured.

The neighbor, Thomas Umberg, said he was walking his dog outside Waite's Orville Street, Glens Falls apartment the afternoon of Feb. 13, 2012 when he heard the noises.

He described them as similar to the sound of a couch being dropped on a floor, and each "bang" was followed by crying and screaming that eventually stopped with the seventh or eighth bang.

He described the noises from the child as "terrifying, kid-in-anguish high screams."

"It was not a normal baby's cries," Umberg testified. "After the seventh, I didn't hear one sound from that child."

He said he didn't call 911 because of the frequent comings and goings from the building, and because he thought the sounds were probably from a fight taking place.

Umberg seemed to be the most damning witness as the prosecution began its case Wednesday in the murder and manslaughter case against Waite, who is accused of killing his 15-month-old son, Jesse Smith.

The jury also heard from the first emergency medical technician who responded to a 911 call from Waite's home the night of Feb. 13. The Glens Falls Fire Department EMT, Micki Guy, testified the child was barely alive from a severe head injury.

Guy said she heard a man she knew to be the child's father say the baby fell, but Guy said the injuries seemed too severe to have occurred during a fall. She said she made a child abuse report based on the injuries.

A relative of Waite's testified that Jesse did not appear injured or to be having any problems when she saw him in a Kingsbury grocery the morning of Feb. 9, 2012. That testimony was elicited in an effort to show the injuries occurred after that day, when the baby was in Waite's care.

Testimony began after Waite's lawyer told the jury his client wasn't responsible for the injuries Waite's young son suffered before his death.

Marc Zuckerman told the panel in his opening statement that Jesse Smith was brought to Waite's home on Feb. 13, 2012, already exhibiting signs that he was having trouble, and Waite called friends to find out what to do for the child.

He said "many people" cared for the 15-month-old, who split time between Waite's home and the home of the baby's mother.

"The critical piece in the case is when the injuries occurred," he said.

Zuckerman spoke for about 10 minutes Wednesday afternoon as Waite's trial on second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges got underway.

While he told the jury the child's injuries were "horrible to contemplate," he said there would be doubt about how they were inflicted and evidence would be insufficient to prove murder.

Zuckerman's opening statement came after Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan blamed Waite for the child's death, telling the jury the boy was healthy and happy when brought to Waite's apartment in Glens Falls hours before he was hospitalized with major head injuries. He died Feb. 15, 2012.

A witness will testify to hearing 7 or 8 loud "bangs," followed by a child crying in the apartment building that day, she said. Medical evidence will show the boy suffered such severe head and facial injuries that he would not have been conscious for the period Waite indicated, Hogan said.

The injuries do not match up with Waite's explanation that the child fell, and bounced off a couch onto a floor, Hogan told the jury. Medical experts will show the injuries were "catastrophic" and took more force than described in Waite's version of events.

"This was a brutal, violent death," she said.

Waite, 29, has pleaded not guilty.

He did not address the court nor seem to show any emotion Wednesday, sitting silently at the defense table in a dark dress shirt and tie.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. RCTS779
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    RCTS779 - November 15, 2013 5:15 pm
    Why am I not surprise? I have members of my own family who rant about neighbors who abuse their kids or pets but when you ask why they didn't call the police, it's always, "I don't want to get involve"..."What if they get mad?"..."Can you call since you don't live in our neighborhood?"
    Yes - I've made a number of calls which have been handled discretely and effectively.
    What I can't understand is when the kittens freeze to death on your neighbor's porch, or their dog starves to death on a tie out or the baby is beaten to death, and you did nothing, how do you face yourself in the mirror or sleep at night, knowing you're no better than the abuser since you did NOTHING...except give up your humanity.
  2. 5756917
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    5756917 - November 15, 2013 9:58 am
    I agree with these comments about this "witness" not doing anything. It's despicable. Perhaps if he had acted sooner, or ran up to the house, he could have saved this baby's life. I have a man next door who abuses his girlfriend's 16 year old autistic kid and I have not hesitated to go right to the door and pound on it until he comes to the door. I have called the cops as well as social services on this family and hopefully they are being "watched." I also continue to listen and watch for any signs of neglect or abuse. It's called being aware of what is going on in your neighborhood and caring about children.
  3. speakforkids
    Report Abuse
    speakforkids - November 15, 2013 6:17 am
    100% agree I can't even comment because I can't write what I want to say.. To many 4 letter words involved... SO I am going to just say Thank You whiteletter68 for saying with more class then I can.
  4. whiteletter68
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    whiteletter68 - November 14, 2013 10:00 pm
    I have purposely taken some time to cool down before commenting on this witness's testimony. How in God's name can ANY adult hear a child screaming, and do nothing? He didn't call 911 because he thought there was a fight going on, and because of the comings and goings from the building? VERY courageous! The old "I don't want to get involved" routine. Well, Mr. Umberg, I hope that you sleep well at night knowing that you could have done something to help this little boy by just dialing your cell phone, and you did NOTHING! You didn't even have to leave your name, and could have called from a pay phone. I hope that you think of that day constantly for the rest of your life. A defenseless little boy screaming for help, and you did nothing.A very poor human being to say the least!
  5. jasval
    Report Abuse
    jasval - November 14, 2013 4:52 pm
    I agree with Ottis 1, why didn't this witness call 911 and at the very least report a concern of a childs screams?? I know, people don't want to get involved, but this little child might have been saved. Let's hope this low life that abused and killed this child gets what is coming to him.
  6. gfsdnobrains
    Report Abuse
    gfsdnobrains - November 14, 2013 4:44 pm
    I am glad this witness doesn't live in my neighborhood.
  7. Ottis1
    Report Abuse
    Ottis1 - November 14, 2013 8:11 am
    let me get this right . he heard a big bang and baby crying but did nothing. he should be arrested too. what is wrong when people hear these things and do nothing ? only hope his kids don't need help someday.
  8. blueballs
    Report Abuse
    blueballs - November 13, 2013 8:38 pm
    "Guy said she heard a man she knew to be the child's father say the baby fell, but Guy said the injuries seemed too severe to have occurred during a fall."

    as a fellow EMS provider this statement alone is out of line. we are hammered in training that in court and on all our paperwork we report fact not opinion from emt to medic we are not doctors. we are not to make our own opinion but fact.

    I am truly sorry for this child but as professionals we have rules to follow and this rule of fact over opinion is key to the integrity of what we do.

    the jury has a horrible job. I wish them there family and the child's the very best and that justices is served on fact not opinion.

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