Saturday, May 1, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Jennifer Edwards has changed her story about the death of
her 20-month-old daughter, Cedra. She now says her boyfriend
beat Cedra, and that he insisted she lie and take
responsibility for the beatings.

Mother says
she lied about tot’s
death, for partner

Edwards testifies that he
hit her and Cedra so many times,
and 'I picked the wrong decision'

By Susan Kreifels


She told police she punched, kicked and stomped on little Cedra Edwards before her 20-month-old daughter died. But those were lies that she told because her boyfriend insisted on it, Jennifer Edwards has testified in her murder trial.

Under prosecution questioning, she also testified yesterday that she lied to police that she was abused as a child -- put under hot water as punishment, punched in the stomach by a father who was a Golden Gloves boxer, raped by him many times.

But the truth, the 20-year-old defendant said, is that boyfriend Mika Mika Jr. hit her and little Cedra so many times she couldn't keep track. She even caught him taking Cedra "out of the freezer. All the food was in the kitchen sink" as he tried to bring Cedra's fever down.

"I hate this little bald bitch," he would say about Cedra.

Edwards is accused of brutally beating Cedra during the four days leading to her death Dec. 17, 1997. The child died of a ruptured bowel.

During more than four hours of testimony, Edwards, her brow furrowed when she became confused, changed her testimony many times. Although she cried occasionally, she remained dry-eyed as she described the night Cedra died.

About 2 a.m., Mika woke her up, saying " 'Hey, she's dead. She's dead already.' "

Edwards described Cedra with her mouth and eyes wide open, stomach bloated, body bruised, and "vomit came out."

Mika tried to resuscitate her. "I picked her up," Edwards said. "Her body was stiff. I couldn't cradle her."

Then Edwards gave a long description filled with details about what Mika wore, the drive to the hospital, their argument about where to park, their conversation about what to tell police.

Edwards testified that Mika said " 'You got to tell them (police) you hit her, that you were beat up all your life.' "

Telling police she was an abused child herself, Mika told her, would get Edwards out of jail sooner. Confused, shocked and hopeless, she went along with everything the police and Mika said, Edwards told jurors.

"I just kept thinking of the vision" of little, dead Cedra. "I picked the wrong decision," Edwards said, crying. "I didn't leave soon enough."

Edwards said she had planned to leave Mika. She described an abusive relationship in which she was totally controlled by Mika like a "time clock" -- he decided who she could visit, how long, the exact time she must return. He hit her often.

Mika, a witness for the prosecution, testified that Edwards stomped, kicked and punched Cedra, causing her death. The defense has warned jurors to carefully weigh the testimony of Mika, who was arrested in Cedra's death but never charged. Mika could also lose the baby son he shares with Edwards.

Edwards also described a visit by a social worker visiting the couple's apartment with a "little bag of diapers." The worker noticed bruises on Cedra, and asked the girl how she got hurt.

The worker then told Edwards to "keep up the good work. She walked out the door," Edwards testified.

Edwards' family has said state social workers acted irresponsibly and didn't do enough to prevent Cedra's death.

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